A Complete Guide to Bloodborne Pathogens

Every year, six million people living in the United States become exposed to bloodborne pathogens while they’re working. Most of these professionals are working in the healthcare industry. Thus, they expect this risk and generally know how to lessen their risk.

However, there are many workers and others who don’t understand what bloodborne pathogens are. And, they don’t understand how to keep a sterile environment that will protect them from these pathogens.

Lucky for you, we’re here.

If you keep reading, you’ll learn everything you need to know about bloodborne pathogens and how to protect yourself from them.

What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that cause diseases in the bloodstream. They present in the bloodstream. Thus, these pathogens can transfer through human blood and other bodily fluids.

Here are some of the most common diseases that come from bloodborne pathogens:

You may see some healthcare professionals refer to bloodborne pathogens as BBP. They may also use the acronym OPIM, which stands for other potentially infectious materials.

These OPIMs include the following:

  • Amniotic fluid
  • Fluid found around organs like the heart, brain, and lungs
  • Fluid found around joints like the spine and the knees
  • Semen
  • Vaginal secretions

Recognizing these diseases and understanding how they’re passed along is important to ensure that you understand how to prevent contracting them.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

If you’re worried that you may be infected with a bloodborne pathogen, there are a few symptoms that you should look out for.

However, before diving into that, you should know that you need to see a medical professional. They can test you.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms and you’re unsure whether or not you’ve been exposed, you should see a medical professional. You should make sure that you haven’t been infected. You never know when you could’ve accidentally come into contact with another person’s bodily fluids.

Now, let’s review the symptoms of the most common bloodborne pathogens.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

The symptoms of HBV are similar to that of influenza:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

As the disease progresses, you may experience jaundice and darkened urine.

However, most patients don’t show symptoms until several months after exposure. This is why you should seek medical attention directly after potential exposure.

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Most patients with HCV don’t show symptoms, but those that do show the following symptoms:

  • Jaundice
  • Dark urine
  • Orange-brown stool
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Patients can go decades without showing symptoms.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV weakens the immune system. You may notice the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

When the immune system weakens, their condition develops into AIDS.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

AIDS is a more serious condition that comes from HIV and causes the following symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Weight loss
  • Fevers
  • Sweats
  • Persistent yeast infections
  • Persistent skin rashes
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Short-term memory loss

These symptoms can become very serious. So, you should communicate with your doctor regularly.


These are the common symptoms of malaria:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness

You may not have even noticed that you were bitten by a mosquito. So, you should see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

How Can I Get Infected With Bloodborne Pathogens?

As we mentioned, bloodborne pathogens spread from person to person through blood and other bodily fluids. These fluids can spread through bites, mucous membranes, puncture wounds, cuts, or other means.

In all, there are four main ways of contracting bloodborne pathogens:

  1. Direct contact
  2. Indirect contact
  3. Respiratory droplet transmission
  4. Vector-borne transmission

It’s important to understand these forms of contracting diseases so that you can avoid them.

1. Direct Contact

Direct contact occurs when the infected individual’s fluids enter another individual’s body. These infected fluids are directly going into another individual. Hence, the name direct contact.

Arguably, direct contact is the most dangerous of these contact forms. This is because the receiving individual is more likely to become infected via this form of contact.

2. Indirect Contact

Indirect contact refers to when someone comes into contact with a surface or item that has become infected. If this surface or item has come into contact with the infected individual’s bodily fluids, the person who touches this surface or item afterward is at risk for contracting the disease.

Indirect contact is tricky. You can’t say whether or not the second individual is infected. Thus, you may have to conduct testing to figure out whether or not this individual has truly been infected.

3. Respiratory Droplet Transmission

This kind of contact can occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If another person were to inhale the infected person’s respiratory droplets after they cough or sneeze, they could become infected.

Medical professionals often forget about respiratory droplet transmission. But, recently, there has been a push for wearing masks in healthcare facilities.

Thus, researchers are hoping that this will decrease pathogen transfer via this method.

4. Vector-Borne Transmission

Vector-borne transmission involves the use of a third-party vessel. This vessel holds the virus and is called the ‘vector.’

A common vector is a mosquito. These creatures can hold all kinds of pathogens, including malaria. This is one of the most common bloodborne pathogens.

Vector-borne transmission occurs when the vector punctures someone’s skin. Thus, the vector transfers the virus.

How Can I Control Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens?

The most common hazard related to bloodborne pathogens is needlesticks. Nurses and other healthcare professionals are the most at-risk individuals to get stuck with a needle. And, the most common disease that these healthcare providers contract from needlesticks is hepatitis B.

In order to limit this and similar mistakes, you must understand how to control exposure at your worksite. Each worksite should compose safety rules and regulations to help their employees understand how to prevent accidents.

The plan should describe the following regulations:

  • How the employer will keep employees accountable for following rules and regulations
  • How the employee can prevent accidents in the workplace
  • How the employer will work to minimize employee exposure
  • What kind of protective clothing and equipment the employee should wear
  • What kind of training the employee needs
  • What kind of medical surveillance there will be
  • Whether or not the medical facility will require certain vaccinations, such as the hepatitis B vaccine
  • What employees should do if they believe that they’ve had contact with bodily fluids other than their own

By detailing all of these procedures for both the employee and employer, you’ll better prepare your entire organization for handling these situations.

What Should I Do if I’m Exposed to a Bloodborne Pathogen?

If you were exposed to bodily fluids that are not yours, you should do the following:

  • Wash the area that became exposed with soap and water
  • If your eye(s) became exposed, irrigate your eye(s) with clean water, saline, or a sterile irrigant
  • Tell your supervisor as soon as possible that you became exposed
  • Get medical help as soon as possible

You may need to have lab tests, a vaccine, or medications. You should speak with a medical professional about what he/she believes you may need.

What Is Bloodborne Pathogens Training?

Bloodborne pathogens training covers everything that authorized personnel should know. This training covers protective procedures, health information, and more details that every at-risk individual should know.

Bloodborne pathogens training falls under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). All businesses and organizations that fall under OSHA must comply with their standards. And, their standards include extensive bloodborne pathogens training sessions.

So, all of these companies and organizations need to complete training as OSHA has laid out in their training regulations.

What Is a Bloodborne Pathogens Certificate?

A bloodborne pathogens certificate is a marker of the completion of training. If you complete all training requirements and successfully learn the shared information, you should receive a pathogens certificate.

If your employer requires you to get this training, you may need to present the certificate to them. This is the proof that they need to prove employee compliance with OSHA regulations.

Who Should Get Bloodborne Pathogens Training?

If you’re not sure whether or not you’d benefit from bloodborne pathogens training, we have composed a list of the common professional titles that should get proper training.

Let’s begin with formal healthcare workers:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Other healthcare providers
  • Paramedics and other first responders
  • Medical care providers
  • In-home healthcare providers
  • Dentists
  • Dental hygienists
  • Dental assistants
  • Nursing home staff
  • Rehab staff
  • Long-term care facility staff

All healthcare providers are at risk for contracting diseases that come from bloodborne pathogens. As they work with patients, they need to be careful not to come into contact with fluids. Proper training teaches these individuals how to handle patients and their bodily fluids carefully.

Healthcare-adjacent professionals should also receive bloodborne pathogens training:

  • Housekeeping/Janitorial staff
  • Laundry staff at healthcare facilities
  • Laboratory workers
  • Blood bank workers
  • Tissue bank workers
  • Hospice workers
  • Technicians who repair medical equipment

Now that we’ve covered all of the patient-centered professionals, we should talk about other professionals who may come into contact with bodily fluids:

  • Firemen and women
  • Policemen and women
  • Corrections facility staff
  • Teachers
  • Other educational staff
  • General janitorial staff
  • Funeral home workers
  • Mortuary workers
  • Researchers
  • Body artists

All in all, any professionals who may come into contact with bodily fluids should be properly trained. It does not matter whether these workers are part-time, full-time, or of another type. All workers must complete training.

Why Should I Take Bloodborne Pathogens Training?

Whether you’re on the fence about the training or you need an extra reason to continue with it, we have plenty of reasons for you to go ahead with it. Taking training for bloodborne pathogens will help you understand how to protect yourself from serious diseases.

If your job requires you to be in contact with infected patients or materials, you need to take this extra step for protection. You can’t assume that you have all of the knowledge that you need to protect yourself.

It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been working in your position. There is always more you can learn.

By taking bloodborne pathogens training, you’ll learn about the following topics:

  • Methods that you can use to remove any risks for infection
  • What kind of equipment you should wear to protect yourself from potential infection
  • Personal hygiene tactics that you can use to reduce infection risk
  • How to clean and disinfect supplies and equipment properly
  • What to do in case of exposure to bloodborne pathogens

All of these topics are important to understanding and protecting yourself from bloodborne pathogens. So, you should take the training.

No matter how well-prepared you think you are, there’s always something you’re not going to know. And, these facts may save your future well-being.

Do I Need to Take Bloodborne Pathogens Training if I’m an Employer?

If you’re an employer, OSHA requires you to have a written exposure control plan for your workplace. The OSHA defines this under their Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

You’ll use this plan to negate any exposures that your employees may have at work.

If you need help writing this plan, OSHA recommends using their online templates for creating an effective plan.

In addition to this plan, employers need to provide Hepatitis B vaccinations. And, they need to provide personal protective equipment to their employees at no cost to them.

On top of this, you should be cleaning this equipment and replacing it as needed.

Where Can I Get Bloodborne Pathogens Training?

If you want to fulfill your bloodborne pathogens training and learn more about how to avoid being infected, you can depend on our training. And, we have all of the news that you need to stay up to date with the most recent trends in the industry.

Completing this training could protect your health and even save your life. You shouldn’t take this subject lightly.

Be sure to come back to us for all of your training needs.

Anxieties around the spread of bloodborne pathogens are high for many individuals and employers since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the past year, OSHA has ramped up its guidelines for protecting worker’s health and safety to a higher level than ever before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that hospital workers experience 385,000 sharps-related injuries each year.

Could your workers be at risk?

Getting exposed to bloodborne pathogens can have major health and financial consequences for businesses. From the health of workers to worker’s compensation, an outbreak can be very costly.

OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard requires employers to provide annual bloodborne pathogens training if their employees are exposed to blood and infectious materials at work.

In order to protect your employees against exposure to bloodborne pathogens, it is important to put in place a comprehensive infection control plan.

Not sure what an infection control plan entails? We’ve got the most effective strategies for preventing the spread of bloodborne pathogens in your workplace.

What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms in our blood that cause disease. A few examples of bloodborne pathogens are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Human beings can give bloodborne pathogens to each other in a few different ways. The most common way to share pathogens is through bodily fluids such as blood and saliva.

Other ways we transmit pathogens are through broken skin, as well as our eyes, noses, and mouths. In the medical field, it is also important to be careful of getting a sharps injury.

It is very important to limit employees’ exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This is especially important in health care professions.

You can limit exposure by mandating all employees and personnel attend bloodborne pathogens training. You can also put in place a thorough and effective bloodborne pathogen infection control plan.

Why Is It Important to Have a Bloodborne Pathogen Infection Control Plan?

There are so many ways to spread infections. You need to consider all of your options for how to prevent bloodborne pathogens transmission at your place of business.

Bloodborne pathogens training is a great resource for employers. Would you like to educate yourself on the hazards of bloodborne pathogens? Perhaps you want to learn the best methods for preventing exposure.

There are three reasons why it is necessary to have a solid infection control plan.

The first reason is to protect the health and wellbeing of your employees.

Second, the law requires you to have an infection control plan if your employees are at risk of exposure.

Third, an exposure incident will come at a significant cost to your business.

There are several costs when a bloodborne pathogen exposure occurs. These costs include post-exposure treatment and therapy for workers and lost work time.

If an employee does get sick from exposure, they’ll need medical expenses and worker’s compensation. Also, you may have to hire and train a new worker.

What Is an Infection Control Plan?

An infection control plan is key to an effective bloodborne pathogens control program.

This plan should be a detailed written document. It explains the methods your business uses to reduce exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The plan tells employees every step to take in the event an exposure occurs.

It is very important to display the infection control plan where all employees have access to it.

What Should An Infection Control Plan Include?

An effective infection control plan should be a written document. This plan has all your workplace practices and procedures around bloodborne pathogen exposure.

It is important that this plan gets updated annually. Here you’ll find a link to a sample infection control plan from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Make sure to inform your employees of the existence of an infection control plan and where it is located. The plan should be printed and displayed in a high traffic area of the workplace. All employees must have access to reading it.

Provide your workers with safety equipment or personal protective equipment (PPE). Inform workers how their protective equipment functions. Then make sure to ask for their input.

You may think you have all the bases covered. But, the people who know what safety equipment they need most and what works best are the ones wearing it.

Be very specific about who implements the infection control plan. It is helpful to choose one individual who will be in charge of putting the plan into motion.

The plan should specify best practices for preventing exposure, controlling exposure. It should also explain the best practices for disinfecting workspaces after exposure. All procedures should be described in enough detail.

Create procedures for employees to report bloodborne pathogen exposures in the workplace. Have a plan for immediate medical evaluation and necessary follow-up. Practice the plan with your staff.

Keys to An Effective Infection Control Plan

Have a written policy to protect employees against bloodborne pathogens exposures. It is best if there is one designated individual responsible for putting the plan in place.

Some job classifications have a higher risk of exposure. It is helpful to have a list of these so employees know how likely they are to experience exposure.

All employees should attend bloodborne pathogens training. Once upon hiring and at least once each year after. Employers should also offer free hepatitis B vaccinations to anyone who wants one.

Prominently display your workplace methods for the control of bloodborne pathogens. It helps to list these step by step. Include a list of all universal precautions to take as well.

Place sharps containers and other safety devices in convenient locations around your workplace.

Take the time to practice these controls with your workers. Get workers in the habit of practicing effective hand washing and cleaning up. Show them how to handle sharps and their disposal.

Provide your employees with safe and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Disposable gloves and face shields are great at protecting against infection.

Maintain good housekeeping practices within your workplace.

Create an effective system for post-exposure reporting, evaluation, counseling, and follow-up procedures. This should include procedures for evaluating circumstances surrounding an exposure incident.

Keep your records as accurate as possible. Things to record include bloodborne pathogens training, annual plan updates, and injury logs.

CDC Recommendations About Hepatitis B

The CDC recommends that employers encourage hepatitis B vaccinations among their employees. Employers should offer free training and information on the hepatitis B vaccine. Employers should offer the hepatitis B vaccine series at no cost to the employee after.

If an employee does not want the hepatitis vaccine, they can reject it in two instances. An employee can reject the vaccination if they have already received it. An employee can also reject the vaccination if there is no medical reason the vaccine is necessary for them.

Workplaces should have procedures for a vaccination program and recordkeeping. They should also provide a declination form for those who reject the vaccination to sign.

What Is Bloodborne Pathogens Training?

Now you know all about the dangers of bloodborne pathogen exposure in the workplace. Let’s talk about the importance of bloodborne pathogens training. The health of your workers and your business depends on it.

Bloodborne pathogen training is a great idea for anyone who is at risk of exposure to blood and other bodily fluids in the workplace.

This training educates workers and employers on the most common ways bloodborne pathogens are spread. It also trains you in how to avoid being exposed and what to do if you are exposed.

In bloodborne pathogens training, you’ll receive the labels and signs you can use to communicate hazards in your workplace.

Next Steps

It’s time to take everything you’ve learned about bloodborne pathogens and put that knowledge to use in your workplace.

Take an inventory of your current health and safety practices. Find out where there is room for improvement. Engage your employees in this process and ask for their input and feedback about the practices your company already has in place.

If you haven’t already, consider signing your staff up for a bloodborne pathogens training today. You’ll learn the best practices from a certified medical professional. This will improve your ability to prevent and prepare for exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

For any other questions or concerns visit our website. We are your experts in all things related to bloodborne pathogens. How can we help you today?