OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms present in blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. Workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens are at risk for serious or life-threatening illnesses.
Protections Provided by OSHA’s
Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
All of the requirements of OSHA’s Bloodborne
Pathogens standard can be found in Title 29 of the
Code of Federal Regulations at 29 CFR 1910.1030.
The standard’s requirements state what employers
must do to protect workers who are occupationally
exposed to blood or other potentially
infectious materials (OPIM), as defined in the standard.
That is, the standard protects workers who
can reasonably be anticipated to come into contact
with blood or OPIM as a result of doing their
In general, the standard requires employers to:
- Establish an exposure control plan. This is a
written plan to eliminate or minimize occupational
exposures. The employer must prepare
an exposure determination that contains a list
of job classifications in which all workers have
occupational exposure and a list of job classifications
in which some workers have occupational
exposure, along with a list of the tasks
and procedures performed by those workers
that result in their exposure.
- Employers must update the plan annually to
reflect changes in tasks, procedures, and positions
that affect occupational exposure, and
also technological changes that eliminate or
reduce occupational exposure. In addition,
employers must annually document in the plan
that they have considered and begun using
appropriate, commercially-available effective
safer medical devices designed to eliminate or
minimize occupational exposure. Employers
must also document that they have solicited
input from frontline workers in identifying, evaluating,
and selecting effective engineering and
work practice controls.
- Implement the use of universal precautions (treating all human blood and OPIM as if known
to be infectious for bloodborne pathogens).
- Identify and use engineering controls. These
are devices that isolate or remove the bloodborne
pathogens hazard from the workplace.
They include sharps disposal containers, selfsheathing
needles, and safer medical devices,
such as sharps with engineered sharps-injury
protection and needleless systems.
- Identify and ensure the use of work practice controls. These are practices that reduce the
possibility of exposure by changing the way a
task is performed, such as appropriate practices
for handling and disposing of contaminated
sharps, handling specimens, handling laundry,
and cleaning contaminated surfaces and items.
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE),
such as gloves, gowns, eye protection, and
masks. Employers must clean, repair, and
replace this equipment as needed. Provision,
maintenance, repair and replacement are at no
cost to the worker.
- Make available hepatitis B vaccinations to all
workers with occupational exposure. This vaccination
must be offered after the worker has
received the required bloodborne pathogens
training and within 10 days of initial assignment
to a job with occupational exposure.
- Make available post-exposure evaluation and
follow-up to any occupationally exposed worker
who experiences an exposure incident. An
exposure incident is a specific eye, mouth,
other mucous membrane, non-intact skin, or
parenteral contact with blood or OPIM. This
evaluation and follow-up must be at no cost to
the worker and includes documenting the
route(s) of exposure and the circumstances under which the exposure incident occurred;
identifying and testing the source individual for
HBV and HIV infectivity, if the source individual
consents or the law does not require consent;
collecting and testing the exposed worker’s
blood, if the worker consents; offering postexposure
prophylaxis; offering counseling; and
evaluating reported illnesses. The healthcare
professional will provide a limited written opinion
to the employer and all diagnoses must
- Use labels and signs to communicate hazards. Warning labels must be affixed to containers
of regulated waste; containers of contaminated
reusable sharps; refrigerators and freezers
containing blood or OPIM; other containers
used to store, transport, or ship blood or OPIM;
contaminated equipment that is being shipped
or serviced; and bags or containers of contaminated
laundry, except as provided in the
standard. Facilities may use red bags or red
containers instead of labels. In HIV and HBV
research laboratories and production facilities,
signs must be posted at all access doors when
OPIM or infected animals are present in the
work area or containment module.
- Provide information and training to workers. Employers must ensure that their workers
receive regular training that covers all elements
of the standard including, but not limited to:
information on bloodborne pathogens and diseases,
methods used to control occupational exposure, hepatitis B vaccine, and medical evaluation and post-exposure follow-up procedures.
Employers must offer this training on initial
assignment, at least annually thereafter, and
when new or modified tasks or procedures
affect a worker’s occupational exposure. Also,
HIV and HBV laboratory and production facility
workers must receive specialized initial training,
in addition to the training provided to all workers
with occupational exposure. Workers must
have the opportunity to ask the trainer questions.
Also, training must be presented at an
educational level and in a language that workers
- Maintain worker medical and training records. The employer also must maintain a sharps
injury log, unless it is exempt under Part 1904 --
Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries
and Illnesses, in Title 29 of the Code of Federal
For more information, go to OSHA’s Bloodborne
Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention Safety and
Health Topics web page at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/index.html.
To file a complaint by phone, report an emergency,
or get OSHA advice, assistance, or products, contact
your nearest OSHA office under the "U.S.
Department of Labor" listing in your phone book, or
call us toll-free at (800) 321-OSHA (6742).
This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; the teletypewriter (TTY) number is (877) 889-5627.
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