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Communicating a Hazard in the Workplace

Biohazard Sign

Primary Methods of Communicating: Signs and Labels

Signs and labels that alert you to the presence of potentially infectious material and the risk of exposure are vital to a workplace with occupational exposure to potentially infectious materials.

Be sure you are aware of and abide by all signs and labels signaling hazards and hazardous material.

Signs should have a fluorescent orange or orange-red background with a black "biohazard" symbol in the foreground.

Labels must contain the biohazard symbol and must have the word "Biohazard" written on them.

Biohazard bag
Use these red biohazard bags to dispose of solid or liquid items contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

A biohazard label or sign should be attached to each object or container of contaminated material by string, wire, adhesive, or another method that prevents loss or unintentional removal of the label or sign.

When red bags or containers with the biohazard symbol on them are used, a sign or label is not necessary.

Also, when medical laboratory personnel are drawing and testing blood samples, the individual containers housing potentially infectious materials do not need to be labeled.

Properly indicating contaminated material using labels and signs will greatly reduce the risk of accidental exposure to the contaminated material. It is important to maintain appropriate container labeling at all times.

Annual training must be conducted for all employees with occupational exposure.

Information and Training

Hepatitis B
Bloodborne pathogens training should include hands-on practice.

All employees (including part-time and temporary employees) with occupational exposure in the organization should participate in a training program that is provided at no cost during working hours.

  • The training materials used should be appropriate in content and vocabulary to the educational and literacy levels and are conveyed in the language of the employees.
  • The training materials should clearly state the objectives of the training.
  • Trainers should be knowledgeable in the subject matter covered by the training program as it relates to the workplace.
  • All employees should have an opportunity to practice procedures and for interactive questions and answers with the person(s) conducting the training.
  • If computer or online training is used, it should provide an opportunity for a person knowledgeable about the training material to be available to answer questions.

Training Program Elements

The Bloodborne Pathogens training program should include information and explanations of at least the following:

  • epidemiology, symptoms, and modes of transmission of bloodborne diseases
  • the exposure control plan that has been implemented and how to obtain a copy of the written plan
  • appropriate methods for recognizing tasks and activities that may involve exposure to blood or OPIM
  • use and limitations of methods that will prevent or reduce exposures, including appropriate engineering, administrative or work practice controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • the basis for selection of PPE
  • types, proper use, location, removal, handling, decontamination, and disposal of PPE
  • hepatitis B vaccination series, including its efficacy, safety, method of administration, benefits, and the fact that the vaccination will be offered to employees free of charge
  • appropriate actions to take and persons to contact in an emergency involving blood or OPIM
  • procedure to follow if an exposure incident occurs, including the:
    • method of reporting the incident
    • medical follow-up that will be made available
    • procedure for recording the incident in the sharps injury log
    • post-exposure evaluation and follow-up that will be made available to employees
  • signs, labels, and/or color codings used

Frequency of Training

Bloodborne pathogens training must be provided at the time of employees' initial assignment (to tasks in which occupational exposure may occur) and at least annually thereafter (i.e., within one year of their previous training).

Additional training, limited to addressing the new exposures created, is provided to the employee whose occupational exposure is affected by:

  • introduction of new engineering, administrative, or work practice controls
  • changes or modifications in existing tasks or procedures
  • institution of new tasks or procedures


Jennifer works for a computer parts manufacturer. One of her job duties is to perform housekeeping tasks for her section of the warehouse. During her last shift an employee was injured and required first aid treatment, producing contaminated clothing and personal protective equipment. This contaminated material needs to be labeled and disposed of.

How should Jennifer dispose of this contaminated material?

Jennifer's Actions

Jennifer needs to use appropriate personal protective equipment while working with the contaminated materials.

She must also place the contaminated material in a leak-proof bag that is labeled with the symbol and word "Biohazard".

Jennifer should then dispose of the bag based on her employer's exposure control plan.

Body Fluid Cleanup Procedures

Blood or Body Fluid Spill Management


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 "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Signs used to warn of potential infectious materials should have a _______.

2. A biohazard label or sign should _______.

3. All employees, including part-time and temporary employees, with occupational exposure in the organization should participate in a training program that is provided at no cost during working hours.

4. A Bloodborne Pathogens training program should include _______.

5. Training should be provided at the time of an employee's initial assignment in which occupational exposure may occur, and at least _______.

Have a great day!

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