What You Should Know About OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

You may not have questions about OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard. Then again, you may. If so, here’s some information you might find handy.

  • OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard applies to all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Occupational exposure is defined as “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of the employee’s duties.”
  • If employees are trained and designated as responsible for rendering first aid or medical assistance as part of their job duties, they are covered by the protections of the standard.
  • While OSHA does not generally consider maintenance personnel and janitorial staff employed in non-healthcare facilities to have occupational exposure, it is your responsibility to determine which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures involve occupational exposure.
  • All employees with occupational exposure must receive initial and annual refresher training.
  • Part-time and temporary employees are covered by the standard if they potentially may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens and, therefore, should also to be trained during work hours.
  • The standard requires an annual review of the exposure control plan. In addition, whenever changes in tasks, procedures, or employee positions affect or create new occupational exposure, the existing plan must be reviewed and updated accordingly.
  • Universal Precautions is OSHA’s required method of control to protect employees from exposure to all human blood and other potentially infectious materials. The term, “Universal Precautions,” refers to a concept of bloodborne disease control that requires that all human blood and certain human bodily fluids are treated as if known to be infectious for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and other bloodborne pathogens.
  • The use of eye protection is based on the reasonable anticipation of facial exposure. Masks in combination with eye protection devices, such as glasses with solid side shields, goggles, or chin-length face shields, should be worn whenever splashes, spray, spatter, or droplets of blood or other potentially infectious materials may be generated, and eye, nose, or mouth contamination can be reasonably anticipated.
  • Disposable gloves should be replaced as soon as practical after they have become contaminated or as soon as feasible if they are torn, punctured, or their ability to function as a barrier is compromised. Hands must be washed after the removal of gloves used as personal protective equipment (PPE), whether or not the gloves are visibly contaminated.
  • Employees are not permitted to take their PPE or contaminated protective clothing home to clean or launder it. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide, clean or launder, repair, replace, and dispose of PPE and protective clothing.
  • EPA-registered tuberculocidal disinfectants are appropriate to decontaminate equipment or working surfaces that have come in contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. A solution of 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite (household bleach), diluted between 1:10 and 1:100 with water, is also acceptable for cleaning contaminated surfaces.

If you have questions please call me at (229) 207-0664 to discuss them. 

-Steve Petty, Director of Risk Management


StevePettyPhotoCroppedWP Steve Petty joined the Insured Solutions team as Director of Risk Management in 2010. The lessons he has learned from thirty-five years in risk management formed a foundation for what is today a unique Workers’ Compensation program, generating exemplary results for employers.


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