Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that can be found in human blood that cause diseases, including hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Employees may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens in many ways, but needlestick injuries are the most common cause. Bloodborne pathogen exposure may also occur when employees come into contact with contaminants through their nose, mouth, eyes, or skin.
To protect at-risk employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed its Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030).
This standard requires employers to train employees on the hazards of being exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) while at work.
What topics should bloodborne pathogens training cover?
Bloodborne pathogens training teaches employees how to reduce exposure through:
The use of standard precautions (e.g., treating all blood and body substances as if they are infectious);
Implementing engineering controls, including sharps disposal containers and self-sheathing needles;
Following "safe work practices";
The use of personal protective equipment;
And by adhering to good housekeeping practices
Workers should also be trained on the details of their facility's Exposure Control Plan. OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard requires employers to create these control plans as a first step towards preventing infection.
The plan should spell out how a facility will address the requirements of the OSHA regulation itself, and also provide a determination of each employee's potential risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. If employees work in a facility where exposure to blood or blood-related products is possible, the Exposure Control Plan will also cover how workers can obtain Hepatitis B vaccinations through their employer’s vaccination program.
During bloodborne pathogens training, instructors should provide an overview of all labels and signs used in the workplace to communicate hazards, including labels affixed to affixed to containers of regulated waste; containers of contaminated reusable sharps; refrigerators and freezers containing blood or OPIM; contaminated equipment that is being shipped or serviced; and bags or containers of contaminated laundry.
In addition, employees should also receive instruction on the procedures that should be followed if an accidental exposure to a bloodborne pathogen occurs.
Who must receive bloodborne pathogens training?
All workers at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens must be provided with training. This may include employees in many fields, including first responders, housekeeping personnel, nurses and other healthcare personnel.
How often is bloodborne pathogens training required?
Employers must offer bloodborne pathogen training to employees on their initial assignment and whenever new or modified tasks or procedures could affect a worker's risk of occupational exposure.
Those who complete the training must be re-trained annually to renew their bloodborne pathogen certification.
How long must training records be kept?
Bloodborne pathogens training records must be retained for three years from an employee’s training date. Whether training records are kept on paper or electronically, employers must be able to easily access them in case an OSHA compliance officer comes knocking.
In order to comply with OSHA’s BBP training requirements, records must include the following information:
The dates of the training session(s)
A summary of the training session
The names and qualifications of the instructor(s) conducting the training
The names and job titles of all trainees
What formats and tools are best for bloodborne pathogens training?
When it comes to bloodborne pathogens training, it's best to utilize what’s known as a blended learning approach.
With training management software, engaging and interactive online bloodborne pathogens courses can be delivered to workers in a classroom setting, or from employees’ individual work stations.
However, training managers should know that in order to achieve compliance with OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens training requirements, online or video-based training must be supplemented with site-specific information.
IndustrySafe’s video-on-demand courses allow instructors easily accomplish this. Instructors can easily pause and resume training videos when needed to provide additional guidance and site-specific instruction.
When selecting bloodborne pathogen training content, instructors should also select coursework that’s intended for their industry. To help organizations deliver training that best suits their workforce, IndustrySafe offers online courses specifically tailored to employees in commercial and industrial facilities, first response environments, and healthcare facilities.