Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) may sound purely medical to most, and training about it may only stir the interest of healthcare workers. Contrary to this belief, though, bloodborne pathogens training is a requirement for many people—whether working individually or in a laboratory and office setting—handling blood and other bodily fluids on a regular basis.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established guidelines to protect and reduce the risks of exposure to employees who handle blood and other potentially infectious materials.
Find out the types of workers who need bloodborne pathogens training, what bloodborne pathogens are, and what the course is all about.
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria found in the human blood and other bodily fluids. They can cause various illnesses in humans and are transmitted through the bloodstream. These disease-causing microbes can trigger hepatitis B, hepatitis C, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), malaria, and syphilis.
In the workplace, the most common mode of transmission is through an open or punctured wound from a contaminated object. A splash of blood and other bodily fluids to the mucous membranes of the facial cavities such as the eyes, nose, or mouth is a potential mode of transmission.
Besides blood, these microorganisms may also be present in other potentially infected materials (OPIM) and bodily fluids that include semen, vaginal secretions, amniotic fluid, and saliva, to name a few.
As such, OSHA has set safeguards to protect workers against this hazardous exposure, including rules to reduce the risks from exposure. Organizations are required to be compliant with the OSHA bloodborne pathogen standards.
What Is The Training About?
One of the requirements, as mandated by OSHA, is for entities to assign their employees to attend the bloodborne pathogens training. This course aims to increase staff awareness of bloodborne pathogens, the risks involved, and how they can minimize exposure risks.
More specifically, the following topics will be discussed with the training attendees:
- Define bloodborne pathogens
- Recognize common types of pathogens, including signs and symptoms of infection
- Identify the different sources of bloodborne pathogens
- Explain the risks of exposure to these microorganisms
- Identify the means of transmission and contamination
- Discuss the means to limit exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials
- Explore the general post-exposure plan and handling for workers
At its core, the training aims to limit the risks involved with exposure to these pathogens and to protect employees from its hazardous effects.
Who Needs The Training?
Generally speaking, anyone who’s exposed or is anticipated to become exposed to bloodborne pathogens as part of their job is required to attend the bloodborne pathogens training. This covers employees who are exposed to bloodborne pathogens in both private or public settings:
- Healthcare workers in all settings, including nurses, physicians, dentists, medical technologists, nursing aides, and others who work in hospitals, care facilities, laboratories, the academe, and private clinics
- Medical students
- Medical technicians and paramedics
- First aid responders
- Medical equipment technicians
- Medical waste collectors
- Laundry, cleaning, and janitorial staff of health facilities and other establishments
- Law enforcers
- Tattoo and permanent make-up artists
- Funeral and mortuary workers
- School staff
- Child care providers
Anyone who may be handling blood and any other bodily fluids must take the course. This is applicable whether the employee is hired full-time, part-time, or on a temporary basis.
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Compliance
As mentioned, OSHA has set rules to minimize employees’ risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This compliance involves these basic components:
- Employees must provide annual BBP awareness training to employees who have regular exposure to blood or OPIM as part of their job.
- Establishing OSHA-required documents on BBP and implementing safeguards to protect employees from exposure.
- Having an exposure control plan to prevent and manage exposure accidents.
- Designating and training a BBP standards compliance officer responsible for ensuring that the program is in line with OSHA recommendations.
Apart from employees in both private and public settings, individuals can also attend BBP training and get a certification. This is especially beneficial to freelance tattoo and permanent make-up artists or those who want to start a medical career.
Employers must comply with bloodborne pathogens standards by providing their staff with the needed instructions and training, as well as implementing strict standards in minimizing exposure risks.
Similar to healthcare workers, employees in the non-medical field need to be aware of proper handling procedures and should be equally protected from potentially hazardous materials. After all, minimizing a person’s susceptibility to contamination is crucial.
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