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 most common illnesses caused by bloodborne pathogens are hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) from HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus.
The standard applies to all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
You can find more information on recognizing workplace hazards associated with bloodborne pathogens on OSHA's Hazard Recognition Page.
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.
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 bodily fluids, they must receive training to minimize or eliminate their risk to potential exposure.
The primary bloodborne pathogens are:
Other commonly recognized pathogens transmitted by body fluids include:
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.
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.
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