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Many occupations expose employees to bloodborne pathogens.

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious materials in blood that can cause disease when transmitted from an infected individual to another individual through blood and certain body fluids.

Bloodborne pathogens are capable of causing serious illness and death. The three most common illnesses caused by bloodborne pathogens are hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) from HIV,resulting from or human immunodeficiency virus.

Bloodborne Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is becoming more common in the healthcare setting and may be transmitted primarily by contact with infected patients or surfaces causing mild to serious illness and even death.


Who is covered by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

The standard applies to all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

Injured Worker
Employees who provide first aid as part of their job are required to have training on occupational exposure.
  • Occupational exposure is defined as "reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM that may result from the performance of the employee's duties."
  • Blood is defined as "human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood."
  • Other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) means:
    1. The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids;
    2. Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and
    3. HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.

You can find more information on recognizing workplace hazards associated with bloodborne pathogens on OSHA's Hazard Recognition Page.


What is the purpose of OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

The purpose of the standard is to minimize or eliminate occupational exposure to disease-carrying microorganisms or "pathogens" that can be found in human blood and body fluids.

Who must be trained under OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

OSHA has mandated annual training is required for all employees with potential occupational exposure. This means if there is a reasonable possibility an employee might be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM),other potentially infectious bodily fluids, they must receive training to minimize or eliminate their risk to potential exposure.

What are the primary bloodborne pathogens?

The primary bloodborne pathogens are:

  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Other commonly recognized pathogens transmitted by body fluids include:

  • West Nile Virus
  • Malaria
  • Syphilis

OSHA has determined employers can minimize or even eliminate occupational bloodborne hazards by developing and enforcing a combination of exposure control strategies which work for all bloodborne diseases. It is not enough for an employer to provide bloodborne pathogens training; they must also have a formal exposure control plan documented and implemented.

Training Is Not Enough; An Employer Must Implement A Formal Exposure Control Plan


Stanley is an employee for a small manufacturing company. One of Stanley's job responsibilities is to respond to medical emergencies that might happen in the warehouse. Stanley has worked for his employer for five years and has never had to respond to an emergency.

Does Stanley still need to receive annual bloodborne pathogens training?



The frequency in which an employee is exposed to potential bloodborne pathogens is not the standard used to determine the need for training. Because there is a reasonable possibility that Stanley might be exposed to bloodborne pathogens as an employee, he must receive annual training. Neither Stanley nor his employer can predict when he might need to provide emergency medical care.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Check Your Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. As part of Kevin's job he is required to provide emergency first aid to employees that become injured or ill while at work. What are the three primary bloodborne pathogens Kevin must be aware of due to occupational exposure?

2. Samantha is an employee covered by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030. How often must she complete bloodborne pathogen training?

3. What is the purpose of OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

4. Who is covered by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

5. In regard to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, occupational exposure is defined as: _______.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.