Bloodborne Pathogens: How to Protect Yourself

Bloodborne pathogens (BBP), like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV, pose risks to various workers, not just healthcare personnel. Plumbers, housekeepers, maintenance staff, and others may inadvertently encounter BBPs. Eliminating or limiting exposure is vital. Employers must: 1. Develop site-specific exposure control plans. 2. Implement work practice control measures. 3. Provide appropriate personal protective equipment. 4. Train employees on BBP precautions. 5. Offer medical surveillance, including Hepatitis B vaccines. 6. In case of exposure, follow established protocols and seek immediate medical attention. Safety protocols are paramount in preventing BBP exposure.
magnified red blood cells

What are Bloodborne Pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are infectious organisms that travel through human blood. They cause disease (illness) in other humans through direct exposure. The most common of these pathogens include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), so exposures often occur through a needlestick or other sharps-related injuries in the workplace.

Who’s at Risk for Exposure?

Workers that are most at risk are those whom we might expect to come into contact with human blood or other body fluids in the course of their regular work, like healthcare personnel and first responders. However, there are several other professions that may inadvertently involve coming into contact with needles/sharps, blood, or body fluids, including hotel workers, housekeepers, plumbers, refuse disposal workers, and maintenance staff. Thankfully, the good news is that exposure to Bloodborne pathogens is preventable with proper safety protocols.

What can we do to Eliminate or Limit Exposure to Employees?

In order to reduce or eliminate the risk of employer exposure to bloodborne pathogens, employers are required to implement an exposure control plan specific to each worksite that details measures to protect employees. The plan must include the following:

  • Work practice control measures (ie visualizing an area, such as under a bed, before reaching underneath OR not trying to recap needles).
  • Implementation of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including, not limited to gloves, safety goggles, closed-toe shoes, etc
  • Employee bloodborne pathogen training at a frequency determined by federal or each state’s OSHA BBP standards.
  • Offering recommended medical surveillance which may include Hepatitis B vaccines. So Work Health Solutions offers a variety of Health Surveillance services to help prevent exposure to BBP.

What do we do in the Event of a BBP Exposure?

If an employee is stuck by a needle or other sharp or potentially infectious materials, clean the area appropriately:

  • Mucous membrane (Eyes): Immediately flood the eye with water for 15 minutes.
  • Non-mucous membrane wound: Wash the area with soap and water for 15 minutes.

Because of the dangers of BBP exposure, report the incident to the employer and seek immediate medical attention per the employer’s BBP protocol.

We Can Help!

Work Health Solutions has made it its mission to help provide necessary healthcare for those who need it. We especially help those in the working environment. Because we understand the difficulty of occupational health and taking care of employees in the workplace, we want to help! Therefore, if you need help putting together a strategy, contact us today.

Additional BBP Exposure Control Resources:



Director of Occupational Health

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.