Hospital employees face the highest risk of contracting bloodborne pathogens. OSHA has estimated that this includes 5.6 million healthcare industry workers.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, every citizen is at increased risk. The world has seen the enormous impact of bloodborne pathogen exposure. As of July 1, 2021, 33,485,433 Americans have contracted coronavirus and 602,133 have died.
These statistics show the importance of training with bloodborne pathogens. Continue reading to learn the latest updates for educating high-risk employees.
Pathogens describe the microorganisms that cause disease. When they live in the blood, they’re referred to as bloodborne pathogens. Any blood product can contain these organisms.
SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the coronavirus family. It causes the respiratory disease coronavirus 19 (COVID-19).
This virus can infect humans and some animals. The first known human SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred in 2019.
This bloodborne pathogen spreads via coughing, sneezing, and talking. A less common source for exposure involves touching a contaminated surface.
Aside from SARS-CoV-2, there are three primary bloodborne pathogen risks in hospitals. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) cause infections and liver damage.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infections. This can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS interferes with the body’s ability to fight infection and disease and may be fatal.
Healthcare works have an increased risk of exposure. Contact with infected blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIMs) can cause disease. This may occur due to an injury such as a puncture wound or contact OPIMs.
Latest Recommendations for COVID-19 Worker Protection
On June 10, 2021, OSHA released an Executive Summary. It focuses on workers not covered by the OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. The intent is to identify and reduce the risk for workers who aren’t vaccinated or have other risks.
Examples of at-risk workers include:
- Persons who’ve had a transplant
- Persons taking immunosuppressant medications
- Persons prescribed long-term corticosteroids
- Certain vaccinated people with underlying medical conditions
- Persons with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations
- Persons who can’t be protected by vaccination or can’t get vaccinated
- Persons who can’t use face coverings
Employers must take steps to protect these workers regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC states fully vaccinated people may forgo precautions recommended for the unvaccinated. Federal, state, local, territorial, or tribal laws, regulations, and rules may dictate exceptions. The CDC defines full vaccination as having passed two weeks after the final COVID-19 dose.
Fully vaccinated people who have other risk factors are advised to take precautions. The CDC suggests they discuss their risks and actions with their healthcare provider. There are ongoing recommendations from the CDC for precautions in some transportation settings.
Unless other laws or rules apply, employers don’t need to protect vaccinated workers. This applies to employees without other risk factors for contracting COVID-19. They’re still mandated to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees.
Training With Bloodborne Pathogens
The federal OSHA regulation 1910.1030(g)(2)(i) mandates training for workers with exposure risk. Employers must offer training at no cost during work hours. The employer is also held responsible for ensuring employee participation.
Bloodborne pathogens training addresses the following information:
- The entry routes for bloodborne pathogen transmission
- Actions to reduce and remove contamination risk
- Explain what’s involved in “Universal Precautions”
- Types of job activities that pose a risk for bloodborne pathogen exposure
- Different types of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- What PPE to use in various situations
- Proper cleaning and disinfection of supplies and equipment
- Proper disposal of used equipment such as sharps
- Personal hygiene practices to reduce infection risk
- Procedure to follow in the event of a possible bloodborne pathogen exposure
Employers should emphasize the importance of this training. They must also give employees the tools needed to follow protective protocols.
OSHA requires bloodborne pathogen training for all employees when they start their job. Annual refresher training should address topics listed in the standards.
This does not need to be a full repetition of the initial training. Employers may tailor the training to fit the worker’s responsibilities and background.
Exposure Control Plans
For nurses and other healthcare professionals, most exposures occur via needlesticks. HBV represents the most common disease contracted from this incident.
It’s key for institutions to develop infectious disease control plans. Likewise, workers must follow these protocols.
This plan should include the following:
- Method for holding workers accountable for adhering to rules and regulations
- Procedures employees must follow to prevent workplace accidents
- Strategies employers will take to reduce worker exposure
- Definition of PPE to be worn by employees
- Description of employee training plan
- Description of the facility’s medical surveillance plan
- Description of required vaccinations for employees
- Protocol for cleaning and replacing used equipment
- Protocol for employees to follow if they have an exposure
Documenting this plan ensures regulatory compliance. It also serves to protect employees. OSHA provides an online template to help organizations develop their exposure plan.
Who Should Receive Bloodborne Pathogen Training?
Employers must offer training to any employee whose job may expose them to body fluids. Frontline healthcare workers are at the top of the list. This includes:
- Dental assistants
- Dental hygienists
- First responders including paramedics, firefighters, and police officers
- In-home healthcare providers
- Nursing home, long-term care facility, and rehab staff
- Other healthcare providers such as aides and phlebotomists
It’s important to provide training to ancillary staff members who have a potential risk. Examples include housekeeping and laundry workers at healthcare facilities.
Employees working in blood banks, tissue banks, and laboratories should also receive training. An often-forgotten group is the technicians who maintain and repair medical equipment. It’s important to include them in the education sessions.
Other workers at risk for contact with body fluids include teachers and school staff. Funeral home and mortuary jobs involve activities the could cause body fluid contact.
Body artist’s work often involves puncturing the skin which puts them at risk. Some researchers may work with human body tissue and thus should receive training.
Those who haul waste have a risk of being stuck by improperly discarded sharps. One study looked at needlestick injuries among material recovery facility (MRF) workers.
They reported a rate of 2.7 injuries per 100 employees. This finding was compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics injury rates for MRF workers. The result was that needlesticks account for 45 percent of MRF injuries.
Should People Who Work with Animals Get Training?
There are, in fact, several diseases that can spread to humans from animals. Zoonosis describes infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans.
These zoonotic pathogens include bacteria, viruses, parasites, or other agents. Transmission occurs via direct contact or through water, food, or the environment. The most recent zoonotic viruses to impact world health are the Ebola virus and SARS-CoV-2.
It’s important for those working with animals to receive bloodborne pathogen training. This includes professions such as:
- Veterinary assistants
- Researchers who work with animals
Hunters should also receive training. In some states, professional hunters must complete an education program.
For many people, hunting is only a hobby or sport. They aren’t required to complete any training. Choosing to attend a training course would increase their safety.
What Is Bloodborne Pathogens Certification?
Completing a bloodborne pathogen certification shows you have in-depth knowledge of the topic. You can display the certificate in your facility to enhance customers’ peace of mind.
Certifying the management team shows employees that the company is serious about compliance. This can increase workers’ compliance with training and following procedures. Most importantly, it increases everyone’s safety.
The bloodborne pathogen certification training course covers the following topics:
- The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard’s general requirements
- How to develop an exposure control plan
- How to determine worker exposure risk and job classifications
- Proper exposure-risk control methods
- How to define PPE procedures and protocols
- How to develop bloodborne pathogen housekeeping procedures and protocols
- How to develop procedures and protocols for exposure incidents
- What to include in worker training courses
After completing the course, you’ll know how to choose the correct OSHA standards needed. You’ll have the knowledge to properly assess potential hazards and apply the needed precautions.
The course enhances your ability to identify OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requirements. This also gives you tools to identify key elements to put in your exposure control plan. You’ll understand how to effectively implement your plan.
Are You Looking for a Bloodborne Pathogen Training Resource?
Does your position include ensuring organizational compliance with OSHA standards? If you workers face potential exposure to blood or OPIMs, you must develop an exposure plan. This includes training with bloodborne pathogens.
BloodbornePathogensTraining.com is an Engaging Training Solutions Inc education website. It’s a minority-owned small business that’s IACET accredited. We offer management and professional training.
Our focus is on workplace safety, legislative compliance, and healthcare. It’s challenging to keep up with the ever-evolving regulatory changes. This often involves new employee training requirements.