Nearly six million Americans risk exposure to bloodborne pathogens at work each year. Many of these workers are in the healthcare industry. They generally expect and recognize their risk.
A surprising number of at-risk workers are spread across other industries, however. These workers can be at higher risk of infection because they and their employers are less aware of bloodborne pathogen concerns. Here’s what you need to know about risk, bloodborne pathogens training, and the legal requirements that may apply to you.
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are disease-causing microorganisms. These microorganisms can be present in and transmitted through human blood and other bodily fluids. These bodily fluids may also be referred to as other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
Examples of OPIM include:
- Fluid around organs and joints such as the spine, heart, brain, lungs, and knees
- Vaginal secretions
- Amniotic fluid
Examples of BBP and the diseases they can cause include:
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Hepatitis C (HCV)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
What Authorities Oversee Bloodborne Pathogens Training?
Bloodborne pathogen concerns fall under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Any organization or business subject to OSHA must comply with the national bloodborne pathogens standard. This standard is officially and completely laid out in 29 CFR 1910.1030.
Who Must Receive Bloodborne Pathogens Training?
Employers must provide BBP training to every worker or volunteer who risks exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. This includes formal healthcare workers such as:
- Doctors and nurses
- Medical students
- Paramedics and other first responders
- Medical care providers in private, industrial, correctional facility clinics
- In-home healthcare providers such as visiting nurses
- Dentists and dental hygienists or assistants
- Nursing home, rehab, and long term care facility staff
Bloodborne pathogens training must also be provided to workers in healthcare-adjacent fields. Examples include:
- Housekeeping and janitorial staff
- Staff at laundry services handling healthcare facility linen
- Clinical and diagnostic laboratory workers
- Blood and tissue bank workers
- Hospice workers
- Medical equipment repair technicians
Non-healthcare workers who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens and therefore need training include:
- Law enforcement and corrections facility staff
- Teachers and other school or educational staff
- Janitorial staff at educational facilities
- Funeral home and mortuary workers
- Body artists
- Anyone required to provide first aid in the course of their regular duties
- Anyone required to clean or handle OPIM
Employers are not required to train individuals who voluntarily provide first aid outside of their usual duties.
OSHA does not differentiate between full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. All employees of any kind who may be exposed to BBP must receive training by law.
Particularly At-Risk Workers
According to the CDC, needlestick injuries continue to be the most serious source of BBP risk. Nurses are at particularly high risk of needlestick injury. This is true no matter what setting they work in.
Another 25 percent of needlestick injuries affect “downstream” workers. Examples include:
- Laundry service workers
- Waste haulers
- Janitorial or housekeeping staff
Sutures and scalpel blades are also a leading cause of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
Outside medical and medical-adjacent settings, researchers, body artists, and others who regularly handle needles are also at high risk of needlestick accidents.
Basic Training Requirements
All at-risk employees must be trained on BBP risk. Workers must be trained when they are:
- First hired
- First assigned to work that puts them at risk
- Reassigned to a new position that also includes risk
- Given new duties or responsibilities that affect their risk
Workers must be re-trained each year even if their jobs and risk have not changed. It is not enough for workers to simply sit through training or be provided with training materials, either. Workers must complete bloodborne pathogens certification.
Employers must be able to demonstrate that workers understand the material. They must keep evidence of training and mastery on file. Employers need to be able to produce that documentation upon request from OSHA.
What Should Training Cover?
BBP training should teach employees about their risk and how to limit it. Legally, training must cover:
- The definitions of BBP and OPIM
- How BBP are transmitted
- How to prevent the spread of BBP
- Safe and appropriate work procedures
- How to use personal protective equipment
- The employer’s Exposure Control Plan
- What to do if exposure happens
Employers must keep records of employee training for at least three years. These records need to show:
- Who was trained
- When they were trained
- What training was provided
- The instructor’s name and qualifications
Bloodborne Pathogens Certification Made Simple
Providing bloodborne pathogen training can feel overwhelming. It may be particularly challenging for employers:
- Outside the healthcare industry
- With high employee turnover
- Who do not have qualified in-house trainers
- With multiple physical job sites
Many employers also struggle with the cost and record-keeping aspects of training. In many cases, handling training in-house is not feasible.
Outsourcing can be an appealing alternative. Yet many employers are unsure what to look for in a training provider.
HIPAA Exams Bloodborne Pathogens Training
HIPAA Exams’ Bloodborne Pathogens Training Course takes the guesswork and stress out of BBP training. Appropriate for anyone exposed to BBP risk, the course takes only about one hour to complete. It can be accessed online from anywhere at any time.
Staff can work through the course at their own pace, repeating sections as necessary to fully master the material. They can complete the training at their usual job site or in the comfort of their own homes.
This provides employers with maximum flexibility in training delivery. It also makes it easy for workers to repeat or refresh their training whenever they need to.
The course covers all OSHA-required topics and includes:
- A bloodborne pathogens test to prove content mastery
- A printable certificate of completion for documentation purposes
- Opportunities to re-take the test as needed
- CEU credit
The online course also makes it easy for employers to pull-up training records at a moment’s notice. This ensures they always remain OSHA compliant.
How to Get Started
If your staff needs bloodborne pathogens training, HIPAA Exams can help. Check out our HIPAA and OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Bundle for healthcare workers or dental offices. Let our cost-effective and user-friendly training programs bring your organization up to speed today.