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Bloodborne Pathogens

Introductory Information:

This course will provide participants with the knowledge required to identify bloodborne pathogens and to protect against exposure. The course meets requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

As part of this on-line course, participants will be able to ask questions that they may have during the course. Participants' questions will be answered by a qualified instructor during the hours of 8 am and 5 pm (EST), Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Therefore, we encourage participants to take this course during those times.

Main Topics Covered in this Course Include:

  • OSHA Requirements
  • Exposure and Health Effects
  • Controls
  • Post-Exposure Actions

Opening Remarks:

SafeResponse has developed this online program on Bloodborne Pathogens for personnel working for federal, state, and local government agencies. This includes law enforcement personnel, fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel, and others who may be first on the scene of a hazardous materials (Hazmat) emergency.

Legal Requirements:

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard

Workers in many different occupations are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. First Responders, First aid team members, housekeeping personnel in some settings, and nurses are examples of workers who may be at risk of exposure.

On December 6, 1991, the Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued the "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030)". Federal OSHA determined that employees have a significant health risk as the result of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) because they may contain bloodborne pathogens. Theses pathogens include, but are not limited to: hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Exposure to bloodborne pathogens can be minimized or eliminated when the development of an exposure control plan addresses and implements, at the minimum, the following elements: universal precautions, combination of engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment, appropriate decontamination/housekeeping, communication of hazards and training, medical surveillance which includes the offering of the hepatitis B vaccination and post-exposure evaluation & follow-up, and recordkeeping.

The exposure control plan is required to be reviewed and updated annually and whenever necessary to reflect new or modified tasks, procedures and engineering controls/devices which affect occupational exposure and reflect new or revised employee positions with occupational exposure. Non-managerial employees responsible for direct patient care who are potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps are to be solicited in the identification, evaluation and selection of effective engineering and work practice controls and documentation of the solicitation is required to be included as part of the exposure control program.

Which employees are covered by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

Employees having "reasonably anticipated" exposure to blood or OPIM through skin, eye, mucous membrane, or broken skin by: (needlesticks, human bites, cuts, abrasions) that result from the performance of an employee's job duties.

The hazard of exposure to bloodborne pathogens affects employees in many types of employment and is not restricted to the healthcare or emergency service industry.

What is the definition of blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM)?

Blood means human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood.

"Other potentially infectious materials" means the following:

  • Human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal (head ), amniotic (birth fluid), peritoneal (abdomen), pericardial (heart), pleural (lung, chest), synovial (joints), saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids.
  • Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead).
  • HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions as well as blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.

How do employers determine if their employees are covered by the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

Each employer who has an employee(s) with occupational exposure to blood or OPIM is required to document an exposure determination. The exposure determination is made without regard to the use of personal protective equipment since employees are considered exposed even if they wear personal protective equipment.

The exposure determination requires employers to identify and document: 1) those job classifications in which all employees have occupational exposure, and 2) those job classifications in which some employee have occupational exposure.

In the latter case, specific tasks and procedures, or groups of closely related tasks and procedures, which are associated with occupational exposure, must be delineated.

(Note: Employees expected as part of their job duties to render first aid or medical assistance are covered by the requirements of the standard. If the employee is not designated nor trained in first aid but is still expected to render first aid to an injured employee or customer/client, this expectation would constitute, in affect, an actual designation of the employee and OSHA would require such employee to be enrolled in a bloodborne pathogen program. The standard excludes employees who perform unanticipated "Good Samaritan" acts; e.g. one employee may assist another who has a nosebleed or is bleeding as result of a fall. This would not be considered an occupational exposure unless the employee who provides assistance is expected to render medical assistance as one of his/her job duties.)

Getting the Most out of the Program:

  1. Before starting the course, click on each Section Tab at the top of the Introduction page. This will tell you how the course is organized.
  2. You do not need to complete the course in one session. Plan 20 to 30 minute blocks of time for each module.
  3. This course should take (on average) 3 hours to complete. Use this number if you are required to track time spent during training.
  4. Use the "Stop" link on the left hand side of the page to mark your place before leaving the course. When restarting a session, it will be helpful to back track to the end of the previous module to review the summary before you start on the new module.
  5. You should try to complete an entire module before ending your session. Also, if your computer system crashes during your session, you may have to start your current module all over again when you return.
  6. Each of the modules of this course has a summary and questions at the end. Completing these questions will reinforce what you have learned.
  7. At the end of the course, you will have to take complete the "check for understanding". In order to receive a certificate, you will have to get a minimum score of 70%. Certificates of completion can be printed by the participant once the 70% or greater score is achieved. The participant may take the quiz as many times as necessary in order to reach the 70% mark. Passing the learning check will mean that you have met OSHA and National Response Team training guidelines for Unified Command at the Awareness Level.
  8. Many of the questions in the learning check are based on information that appears in the the links that occur throughout the course. You will get a better score if you click on any words or phrases that are linked to another resource.
  9. Finally, online learning is based on content and learner responsibility. As a learner, you have even more responsibility when taking this course. If you skip a section or fail to review all the material, it could result in an injury to you, a fellow employee, or a member of the general public. For this reason, we urge you to get as much out of this course as you can.
  10. As part of this online course, participants will be able to ask questions that they may have during the course. Participants questions will be answered by a qualified instructor during the hours of 8 am and 5 pm (EST), Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Therefore, we encourage participants to take this course during those times.