Risk Management: Understanding OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

Risk Management: Understanding OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

In the medical and dental field, taking care of patients is a top priority. However, for healthcare employers, ensuring the safety and welfare of employees it's just as important. When it comes to professions that expose workers to infectious diseases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) requires employers to take their workers' health seriously. 

To learn more about the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard, continue reading the information below. We'll explain more about bloodborne pathogen training and how to stay compliant with OSHA guidelines.

What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are contagious microorganisms within human blood that can infect humans with a disease. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Human Deficiency Virus(HIV) are some examples of pathogens. Needle pricks and other sharps-related accidents could expose workers to bloodborne pathogens.

Individuals who work in the medical field, such as nurses, first responders, and other medical employees have a high risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. To minimize the potential hazards of occupational exposure to pathogens, healthcare employers are required to enforce an exposure control plan for employees.

The plan must include a breakdown of employee protection guidelines, and it should also detail how the employer plans to put the protective program into action.  

What Is the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard?

OSHA, also known as the Occupational Safety And Health Administration, published the first bloodborne pathogens standard in 1991. This guideline requires employers to take initiative to minimize their employees' bloodborne pathogens exposure. 

The standard details a description of individuals who are covered by the standard. It also includes the definition of words used in the document and sections that describe what's required of employers.

The OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard makes it mandatory for employers to do the following:

  • Create a written "Exposure Control Plan that's updated each year
  • Enforce the use of universal (standard) protocol
  • Ensure the use of engineering precautions, including the operation of effective, safe medical equipment like sharps disposal bins, self-sheathing needles, and needleless operations.
  • Make sure that work practices are performed to minimize exposure, such as proper practices for handling and discarding laundry and sanitizing infectious surfaces.
  • Provide individual protective equipment like eye protection, gloves, gowns, and masks.
  • Provide free hepatitis B vaccinations to workers within 10 days of assignment.
  • Provide free post-exposure exams per the CDC guidelines after any occupational exposure accident for employees.
  • Educate employees about hazards via bloodborne pathogen training, signage, and labels.
  • Document injuries and maintain the medical records for injured employees.

After the original standard was published in 1991, OSHA issued a revised bloodborne pathogens standard on January 18th, 2001. The revision included changes that Congress detailed in the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. It also detailed additional requirements for employers to follow, such as:

  • Maintaining a sharps injury log
  • Documenting non-managerial workers for ID, evaluation, and selection of devices
  • Expanded terms and definitions of engineering controls
  • Ensuring that exposure control protocols included changes in technology that minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens

OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Training Requirements 

Any employee that's at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens is required to undergo training. This includes workers in various fields in the healthcare industry, like housekeeping personnel, nurses, emergency responders, doctor's office workers, and more.

Bloodborne pathogens training must be provided to employees before their first assignment. Also, if there are any new or modified protocols that could increase a worker's risk of occupational exposure, new training is required. Individuals who complete the training course have to be re-trained every year to renew their bloodborne pathogens certification.

Bloodborne Pathogens Training Topics

There are specific topics that should be covered during pathogen training. The course must educate employees on how to minimize exposure by doing the following:

  • Adhering to safe workplace precautions
  • Using personal protective gear and equipment
  • Following proper housekeeping practices
  • Using basic safety precautions, such as treating every blood sample as if it's infectious
  • Using engineering controls such as self sheathing needles and sharps disposal bins

 Workers should also be taught the details of their specific facility's exposure control plan. The OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard mandates employers to implement their control plans as the foundation for preventing infectious diseases.

Bloodborne Pathogens Training Records

All employee training records are required to stay on file for at least three years from the worker's training date. Furthermore, the documentation must be easily accessible by the employer in the event that OSHA performs an audit. In order to comply with the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard training requirements, records most detail:

  • The date of the training session
  • The names and educational qualification of the course instructors who conducted the training
  • The name and job title of all employees who are trained
  • A summary of the course session

Bloodborne pathogens training does not have to be provided in a classroom setting. OSHA does allow video on-demand courses and online, video-based training.

However, the program content must include all pertinent information required by OSHA. It's also a good idea for employers to use a training course that is specific to their industry.

Bloodborne Pathogens Training

Following the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard is vital to ensuring the health and safety of your workers. Not only that, but it keeps you in compliance with OSHA and free of penalties. If you need bloodborne pathogens training for your employees, HIPAA+ Exams has what you need.

We offer educational courses that are IACET accredited and include the CDC AND OSHA bloodborne pathogens standards. This program requires trainees to have at least an 80% passing score.

If you have questions regarding our products, call 1-888-362-2288 or contact us online. 

We're here to help you keep your practice safe and compliant.