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Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms present in the blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens” (29 CFR 1910.1030) requires employers to implement safeguards to protect workers against the health hazards associated with blood and other potentially infectious materials. The OSHA standard covers all employees who could be "reasonably anticipated" to have an eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral (e.g. needle stick) contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) while performing their job duties. Workers that may have exposure to blood or OPIM include, but are not limited to nurses, research lab associates, laboratory technologists, first responders, and physicians.
The standard requires the employer (i.e. Principal Investigator, Lab Manager/Supervisor) to:

  • Establish an exposure control plan. This is a written plan to eliminate or minimize occupational exposures. The employer must prepare an exposure determination that contains the list of job classifications in which some workers have occupational exposure, along with a list of the tasks and procedures performed by those workers that result in their exposure.
  • The Exposure Control Plan must be updated annually to reflect changes in tasks, procedures, and positions that affect occupational exposure, and also technological changes that eliminate or reduce occupational exposure. The Exposure Control Plan can be located under the "Manuals" tab at the top of the EHS Home page.
  • Implement the use of universal precautions (treating all human blood and OPIM as if known to be infectious for bloodbourne pathogens)
  • Identify and ensure the use of work practice controls. These are devices that isolate or remove bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace. They include sharps containers, self sheathing needles, safer medical devices and needleless systems.
  • Identify and ensure the use of work practice controls. These are practices that reduce the possibility of exposure by changing the way a task is performed, such as appropriate practices for handling and disposing of contaminated sharps, handling specimens and cleaning contaminated or potentially contaminated surfaces and items.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, eye protection, and masks.
  • Make available hepatitis B vaccinations to all workers with occupational exposure. The vaccination must be offered after the worker has received bloodborne pathogen training and within 10 days of initial assignment.
  • Make available post-exposure evaluation and follow-up to any exposure incident. An exposure incident is a specific eye, mouth, other mucus membrane, non-intact skin, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM. The route of the exposure and the circumstances under which the exposure occurred must be documented.
  • Use labels and signs to communicate hazards. Warning labels must be affixed to regulated waste, refrigerators, freezers containing blood or OPIM
  • Provide information and training to workers. Employers must ensure workers receive training that covers all elements of the standard. Training must be done annually. The on-line bloodborne pathogen intital training and the refresher training can be found under the training tab.