Millions of workers are exposed to bloodborne pathogens while on the job each year. Many of these workers are in the healthcare industry, but employees required to complete bloodborne pathogens training are in various sectors.
Employees in every field with a reasonably anticipated risk must receive proper training to ensure their safety. Employers must provide a comprehensive training course on bloodborne pathogens to certify employees according to OSHA requirements.
Below is everything you need to know when it comes to understanding OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard, what a bloodborne pathogen is, and how to protect yourself against blood or other potentially infectious materials on the job.
Table of Contents
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP)?
These pathogens travel in the blood and can transmit disease. These are microbes that can be transmitted between individuals through blood as well as other bodily fluids. Another way to refer to these bodily fluids is other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
Illnesses associated with these pathogens include:
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Hepatitis C (HCV)
Individuals can get sick from these blood-borne pathogens by coming in contact with infected human blood or body fluids. They can also be spread through mucose membranes and cuts, which is what makes these diseases so contagious.
Bloodborne pathogens like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), and Hepatitis B are also considered sexually transmitted diseases, but they can also be spread through non-sexual contact.
Any bloodborne pathogen threatens the safety of individuals in the work environment. Any exposure to blood or bodily fluids requires the proper equipment and training to keep everyone safe. No one who isn’t properly trained or designated to handle these issues should do so at work.
Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM)
Some employees can be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) at work. They risk being exposed in a variety of ways. The most common source of BBP risk is needle stick injury. Needlestick injuries are an example of an exposure incident that can be harmful to employees, resulting in the need for training on handling hazardous materials.
The workers most at risk of occupational exposure are those who clean or decontaminate surfaces that have come in contact with blood or OPIM. This includes employees who are trained to provide medical, healthcare, and medical research services. These duties are typical for:
- Dental hygienists
- Laboratory technicians
Some examples of other potentially infectious materials are:
- Amniotic fluid
- Vaginal secretions
- Fluid surrounding most joints and organs
Who Oversees Training for Bloodborne Pathogens?
The completion of training on bloodborne pathogens falls under the concern of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Any businesses subject to OSHA requirements must legally provide training on bloodborne pathogens to all employees at risk of exposure to blood and any diseases that come from contact with human blood.
There is some flexibility when it comes to how employers conduct courses and where they receive training from. Different workplaces have differing needs, which will determine some of the topics covered in the material.
However, OSHA is specific about what guidelines are required. Some examples of bloodborne pathogen exposure include when employees come in contact with contaminated materials or their sources. This can happen in a variety of ways. Contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, or skin can be harmful to the individual exposed.
OSHA developed the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to protect at-risk employees from bloodborne pathogens. Following this standard will guarantee that the proper documentation is filled out in case OSHA requests it. By the way, we do have a Bloodborne Pathogens “Toolbox Talk” that you should check out as well.
When Must Employers Provide Training on Bloodborne Pathogen Standards to Employees?
Employees must receive BBP training and understand their exposure risk. All workers at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens in any industry must know how to comply with OSHA standards at different stages in their employment. Workers must be trained when they are:
- First assigned to work that puts them at risk
- Reassigned to a new position or job that puts them at risk
- Given new responsibilities that affect their risk level
Workers must also be re-trained yearly even if their risk exposure doesn’t change. It’s also important to note that sitting through a training session and being provided training handouts is not enough. All workers must complete a bloodborne pathogens certification to meet the required standard precautions.
Employers must prove that all of their employees understand the material. Evidence of training and its completion must be recorded and kept on file. Employers must also show that standard precautions continue to be met and followed. All employers have the duty to provide these documents when requested by OSHA.
All training records must be kept for a minimum of three years and show:
- Who was trained?
- When were they trained?
- What type of training was provided?
- The name(s) and qualifications of the instructor(s)
Who Must Follow the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard?
Every employee and volunteer who risks exposure to blood and other hazardous materials must receive training on BBP. Here’s who needs training.
Formal Healthcare Workers
- Medical students
- Paramedics and first responders
- In-home care providers
- Medical care providers in these fields, including those working in private, industrial, and correctional facility clinics
- Long-term care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Rehab facilities
Training on Bloodborne Pathogen is required for workers in fields that are considered healthcare-adjacent. These positions include:
- Housekeepers and janitorial staff
- Laundry attendants in healthcare facilities
- Clinical and diagnostic laboratory technicians
- Blood and tissue bank workers
- Hospice care workers
- Medical equipment repair technicians
Some non-healthcare workers can be exposed to BBP who are required to complete their training on bloodborne pathogens. These workers include:
- Law enforcement or corrections facility staff
- Teachers and educational staff, including janitors
- Funeral home and mortuary workers
- Body artists
- Individuals who are required to provide first aid
- Individuals who handle OPIM
Remember that employers are not required to train employees who voluntarily provide first aid outside their duties. OSHA also does not differentiate between individuals who are full-time, part-time, or temporary employees. Employees of any kind who may be exposed to BBP are required by law to receive training on bloodborne pathogens before starting their initial assignment.
What is Included in Training?
According to OSHA requirements, all training should consider the education level, literacy level, and language for them to complete it to the best of their abilities. Courses on Bloodborne Pathogens teach employees how to minimize risk using standard precautions.
This is done by implementing engineering controls, such as disposing of containers and following other safe work practices like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
Below is an overview of the components required for an employee to be OSHA compliant and other necessary information about bloodborne pathogens.
- Information on bloodborne diseases
- Information on how a bloodborne pathogen is transmitted
- How to Prevent the Spread of BBP
- Summation of all OSHA requirements
- Information on Exposure Control Plans
- How to Use Personal Protective Equipment
- How to Carry Out An Exposure Control Plan
- Medical Evaluation and Post-Exposure Steps
Employers must guarantee that their employees receive regular training on bloodborne pathogens that covers all of these elements and critical concepts for universal precautions and OPIM.
How Often is Training on Bloodborne Pathogens Required?
Employers must provide employees with additional training when their job or procedures are changed or when new duties or procedures increase their occupational exposure. Employers can limit the additional training to address only the new exposures created in the new situations they encounter.
As mentioned, all employees affected by BBP, as soon as they begin working at the facility, require complete training before starting their duties. All employees also need to be re-certified in BBP training:
- A minimum of once a year
- Any time they change jobs or the duties of their job change in a way that impacts their risk of exposure
- Employers may also want to provide refreshed training records:
- Following any on-site accidents
- When external forces alter exposure risk
- When the Exposure Control Plan or similar internal processes or procedures affect the exposure risk or are updated or changed
To minimize the worker’s risk, employers must stay up-to-date with annual training sessions and keep training records for each employee in case they are asked to show proof that training is being carried out. Employees should also be free to request re-training if they consider it necessary to perform their duties.
What is an Exposure Control Plan?
An exposure control plan is a written and documented framework that aims to protect employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material. This plan is part of OSHA compliance, which means any employer who does not have one is in violation of federal law.
What Should Be in the Plan?
This plan should include the names, duties, and departments of each worker who may be at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This plan will also cover how workers can receive Hepatitis b vaccinations through a job healthcare program and other necessary vaccinations to keep them safe.
There also needs to be exposure control when working with hazardous chemicals and other materials that can harm workers but don’t come from surfaces or materials contaminated by bodily fluids. These exposure controls are regulated similarly to keep all workers safe while on the job.
Controls are prescribed by The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). They require labels and pictograms to notify users of any chemical hazards they may be exposed to. Employees should be literate in this type of labeling and should not handle materials containing any symbol they’re unfamiliar with.
Each label or pictogram will include a symbol over a white background framed within a red border to represent each distinct hazard.
Getting Your Bloodborne Pathogens Certification
Getting certified is easy. Employers can decide how they deliver and record their BBP training sessions by using an online course that is OSHA compliant. Training videos are generally considered the most cost-effective and standardized training method.
Employees can complete the program at their own pace and in multiple sessions if necessary, as long as it is completed and they receive their certificate before working.
If employees work in an environment where their job duties put them at risk of exposure to blood and other hazardous materials, they need to be fully knowledgeable in common bloodborne diseases and how to prevent their spread. Any employees who are trained and designated to administer first aid are included.
It’s the responsibility of the employers to determine which job classifications, tasks, and procedures are involved in occupational exposure. Employees must ensure that they are handling materials that are appropriate for their job code to prevent unnecessary and harmful risks or exposure. Whether or not they have completed this training and have the certificate as proof will determine if they are equipped to handle bloodborne pathogens.
Obtaining a Certificate
Everyone who successfully completes the course receives their certificate. There is no extra charge for retakes and no recurring fees for anyone who takes a course. Employers can train employees when needed, as long as they receive the necessary training before they begin working with anything potentially hazardous.
Get the Training You Need
If you or your employees require BBP training, the best way to provide it is using OSHA-compliant safety training videos. These courses is fully comprehensive in teaching employees in various industries how to safely work in an environment that comes with the risk of handling blood or other potentially infectious materials.
These online training courses are appropriate for individuals working in the healthcare industry, or are designated to administer first aid, or work in any other fields where they are at risk. These courses cover everything employees need to know, from what pathogens are to how to use personal protective equipment.
These training sessions are conducted by a disease control and prevention expert to guarantee that the information follows the Bloodborne Pathogens standard 29 cfr 1910.1030 approved by OSHA. Employees will receive the training they need to protect themselves and others on the job.
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