Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses which are carried in the blood and can cause diseases like Bloodborne Pathogens certification Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and malaria. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a bloodborne pathogens (BBP) standard which regulates exposure to Bloodborne pathogens and any employee who may come in contact with Bloodborne pathogens as a part of their job is covered by this standard. It requires all those at risk workers to undergo Free Bloodborne Pathogens Training which covers health care workers, first aid providers, and employees who have to clean up after an injury. This training is to be done annually or when changes in tasks and procedures affect a worker’s exposure to such pathogens in order to renew the employees’ Bloodborne Pathogen training certification. OSHA’s rules and regulations dictate that the BBP training should be imparted according to the educational level, literacy, and language of the trainees.
The training should help the workers identify pathogens, diseases caused by them, and their symptoms in human blood which are responsible for causing diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Malaria, Syphilis, and many other serious diseases which can be transmitted through infected blood. BBP training should also include a discussion about the potential routes of exposure to such pathogens. It can either be transmitted to a healthy person when the blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) come in contact with the mucous membranes or through a cut or by a used needle stick or broken skin. All employees with exposure to blood should be taught about the use of standard precaution to reduce the risk of getting infected by Bloodborne pathogens which includes treating all blood and body substances like they are infectious.
OSHA regulates that you need to review and explain the BBP standard to your employees. This standard applies to all occupational exposures to the blood which may be infected or OPIM and has definitions, exposure control, methods of compliance, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B virus research centers and production facilities, their vaccination, post-exposure evaluation, communication of the hazards to the employees and recordkeeping of such exposures as well as training. You are also mandated to make your exposure control plan available to your employees which should include a list of job tasks and classifications in which employees may have occupational exposure to blood or OPIM. A description regarding how universal precautions are applied in your workplace along with work practice and engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), and housekeeping procedures. Procedures for the provision of hepatitis B vaccination and post-exposure evaluation should also be explained. Also, the communication of hazards to employees should also be described and your follow up strategy should also be highlighted along with your procedure for evaluating an exposure incident and workplace.
The BBP standard is applicable when workers are exposed to blood or OPIM at the work, meaning a worker’s duties at job involve presence of blood. This is known as occupational exposure while if a worker is working, something happened which could cause and infection from blood or OPIMs, then it is known as exposure incident. It could include incidents like an employee got a splash of blood or OPIM in the eyes. You can make your employees list tasks which may have occupational exposure in order to make them more aware about the exposure risk. During training, you should also highlight the procedures you have incorporated in the workplace for reducing or preventing exposure to BBP which can include things such as Immunizations, universal precautions, following proper personal hygiene like handwashing, Wearing PPE for high exposure risk tasks, cleaning and disinfecting equipment from time to time. It can also include disposing of waste contaminated by blood or OPIMs adequately and using puncture resistant containers, needle less devices or other safety devices designed specifically for healthcare needs.
Containers of blood or OPIMs as well as regulated waste should be labeled properly with the biohazard warning symbol. The labels should be orange-red or fluorescent orange in color for easy identification. Biohazard symbols should also be placed at entrances to work areas where HIV and Hepatitis research or production is done in order to warn people to take extra precautions. Also, employees should be given an overview of all labels and signs used in the workplace to communicate hazards, including labels on containers of contaminated waste, freezers containing blood or OPIM and contaminated equipment which is being serviced or shipped. Training should also encompass the procedure of use of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for the workers. PPE includes gloves, eye protection, masks, gowns, lab coats, face shields etc. and it should be matched to the job and potential for exposure to pathogens. The PPE kits should be fit for employees and it is very important to train them on the correct way of taking off and properly decontaminating or disposing of the PPE after use.
You should also review your vaccination program and make Hepatitis B vaccination available to all the employees who are at risk of exposure and teach them about its effectiveness, the amount of safety it provides, how it is administered and its benefits. The employees must sign a declination form if they wish to not get the vaccination. Teaching the employees about the procedure to be followed in case of an emergency is also important and if any emergency situation involving blood or OPIM arises, all employees should know who to call for help and what emergency response procedures are to be followed. In case of an exposure, the employees should know that they have to report any work related contact with blood or OPIMs if the contact was with eye, mouth, non intact skin or mucous membrane, they should let their supervisor know right away. Steps to minimize risk of infection should be taken and after an exposure, the employees are to be given a confidential medical evaluation and follow up.