OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard seeks to protect workers against AIDS, hepatitis B virus and other bloodborne pathogens. The following are highlights of the standard.
Scope and Application
This standard applies to all occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials, and covers all employees who could be “reasonably anticipated” to contact body fluids while performing their job duties. OSHA has not attempted to list all of the occupations where exposures may occur and precautionary steps should be taken whenever such concerns arise. Some workers at risk of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material include, but are not limited to:
- Dentists and other dental workers
- Laboratory workers
- Research scientists
- Emergency medical professionals
- Medical technologists
- Police officers
- Dialysis workers
- Funeral service personnel
- Medical examiners
- Maintenance personnel
Exposure Control Plan
If an employee experiences an occupational exposure as defined by the standard, a written exposure control plan must be established.
Routine and reasonably anticipated tasks and procedure, without regard to use of personal protective equipment and clothing, must be evaluated to determine whether there is actual or potential exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. All employees performing such tasks with actual or potential exposure should be identified.
Universal precautions (treating bodily fluids/materials as if infectious) must be observed in all situations where potential contact with blood or other infectious materials can occur. Employees should be allowed to exercise professional judgment concerning the use of protective equipment, but employers must provide this equipment at no cost to employees when there is possible occupational exposure. Employers must document annually that they have researched and implemented, where feasible, safer medical devices and the implementation of engineering controls.
The standard stresses appropriate housekeeping. Work areas must be kept clean and in sanitary condition. This includes proper cleaning, disinfecting and inspecting of work areas. All infectious waste must be placed in a properly-labeled, leak-proof container, treated, or disposed of as a biohazard waste. All sharps (needles) must be disposed of in a puncture-resistant, leak-proof, labeled container.
HBV vaccination series must be offered, free of charge, to any employee who, because of their job duties, is occupationally exposed to bloodborne pathogens. The vaccination should follow employee training.
Post-Exposure Evaluation and Follow-up
Immediately following a reported exposure incidence, the employer must make a confidential medical evaluation and follow-up available to the exposed employee.
Communication of Hazards to Employees
Warning signs and labels must be affixed to containers of regulated waste, refrigerators and freezers containing blood or other potentially infectious material, and any other containers used to store/transport/ship blood and infectious materials. Hazard warning signs with the universal biohazard symbol must be posted at the entrance of laboratories or areas where infectious materials or infected animals are present. Employees should have the opportunity to ask questions to a knowledgeable person. OSHA also requires that all employees who have occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens participate in a free training program offered during working hours.
WCF Insurance Safety Department
NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.