Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens is a serious health concern, and workers must be trained to prevent exposure and protect themselves. Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms that are contained in human blood and body fluids. They can cause life-threatening disease. Blood borne pathogens are most often spread through direct contact with infected blood or fluids, and through sexual contact.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a standard that describes bloodborne pathogens and establishes guidelines for employers and workers to reduce exposure and protect workers. The standard also establishes guidelines for training and implementing control plans. Bloodborne pathogens are one of the most serious risks that health care workers face.
Health care workers are at a particularly high risk for bloodborne pathogen exposure, as they frequently come into contact with body fluids. Workers may come into contact with blood through needlestick injuries, skin exposures, or other direct contact. Health care workers should wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye protection, masks, or gowns to prevent exposure. If you work with needles, make sure that the needles are placed in leak-proof containers. You should also disinfect any visible soiled surfaces.
Health care workers and other people who come into contact with blood may also be at risk for hepatitis. There are two main ways that people can be infected with hepatitis: through direct contact with blood or infected body fluids, or through sexual contact. The risk of transmission depends on the type of inoculum and the size of the inoculum. The titer of the virus is also a factor.
There are two main types of training programs: bloodborne pathogens awareness training and first aid training. Bloodborne pathogens awareness training is required to be recurrent for all employees who have exposure to bloodborne pathogens, and first aid training is required annually. Both types of training are required to be delivered in understandable language and include interactive question and answer sessions. Bloodborne pathogens training is available to employees in a variety of ways, including online training.
A written exposure control plan is also required. The plan must include an assessment of the risks that an employee faces for exposure to bloodborne pathogens and a description of the engineering and work practice controls that should be implemented to minimize exposure. The plan must also describe procedures for decontamination and first aid. The plan must also describe the personal protective equipment (PPE) that workers should wear. Some of the PPE that workers should wear are face shields, gowns, and disposable gloves. Depending on the work that an employee does, he or she may need to wear more or less PPE.
Bloodborne pathogens training must be made available to workers in a timely manner. The standard requires that the training be delivered at the educational level of the worker. The standard also requires that the standard be made available to employees within 10 days of their assignment. The standard also requires that a copy of the standard be readily accessible to workers and that training and control plans be made available to workers.