What are OSHA requirements for bloodborne pathogens?

six syringes in an apple

Bloodborne pathogens are a dangerous possibility that all employees risk coming in contact with at the workplace. hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are microorganisms that can infect an individual should they come in contact with it. Due to the danger of infection, the occupational safety and health administration set into place certain parameters in 1991 to help mitigate the risk of exposure for employees.

These requirements limit the risk of exposure.  They also eliminate the risk of spreading after exposure. OSHA requirements for bloodborne pathogens have evolved over the years into an excellent defense against the risk of infection. Here is what you need to know.

Implement Standard Precautions

To limit the chance of exposure and infection in the workplace, OSHA has recommended precautions that all employees must follow. 

Employees must properly wash their hands

OSHA implemented proper handwashing as an effective way to minimize the risk of contracting a bloodborne pathogen. The standard for proper washing technique includes scrubbing your hands with soap and water for one minute, followed by 30 seconds of washing with an alcohol-based cleaner.

The safe disposal of sharp objects

Sharp objects such as needles, razor blades, scissors, knives, scalpels, etc., can transmit disease should an individual accidentally cut themselves with the instrument. Dispose of used or unclean sharp objects in safety boxes. These spill-proof containers provide a safe place to store contaminated items for proper disposal.

Proper disposal of bio-waste

Ensure proper disposal of blood, medical waste, fluid spills, or other bodily fluids that carry disease.

The development of general good habits among employees

Good habits include not eating, drinking, inserting contact lenses, smoking, etc. in an area where you may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens.

Utilize PPE

Another core element of OSHA requirements for bloodborne pathogens includes the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Proper equipment includes:

  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Face shield
  • Apron
  • Shoe covers

This equipment not only keeps any bio-waste or fluid spills from entering the body but also from staining your clothing. It’s possible to carry the pathogen with you and become infected through contact later on.

Practice Good Housekeeping

This practice is especially important in the medical field or laboratories. Anywhere where there is a heightened risk of exposure to pathogens. Keeping surfaces wiped clean, disposing of used or infected items and materials, and washing contaminated fabrics are all a part of practicing good housekeeping within an organization. 

What should you do if you are exposed to a bloodborne pathogen?

No matter how many precautions you take, there is still a risk you may be exposed to a bloodborne pathogen. Thankfully, OSHA has implemented some guidelines on what to do if you’ve been exposed to a bloodborne pathogen.

OSHA training programs go over what to do if you need to clean an infected area, flush out mucus membranes, apply basic first aid, and treat injuries such as needlesticks, small cuts, or exposure to eyes or skin.

While there is always a risk of exposure to a bloodborne pathogen in the workplace, there are several precautions to can take to limit your chances of contracting a disease. If you have more questions about how you can implement safety procedures within your company, reach out to a medical expert today on how you can keep yourself and your employees safe from a bloodborne pathogen.

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