- Safety and Health Topics
- Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention
Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention
What are bloodborne pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to bloodborne pathogens. Workers in many occupations, including first responders, housekeeping personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel, all may be at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
What can be done to control exposure to bloodborne pathogens?
In order to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, an employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an employer will use engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, employee training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, and other provisions as required by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). Engineering controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimizing employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices, such as needleless devices, shielded needle devices, and plastic capillary tubes.
Provides information on the revised standard.
Highlights directives and letters of interpretation related to bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention.
Provides references that aid in recognizing workplace hazards associated with bloodborne pathogens.
Evaluating and Controlling Exposure
Provides information for evaluating and controlling bloodborne pathogens and needlestick hazards.
Bloodborne pathogens and needlesticks are addressed in specific OSHA standards for general industry.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
If you are stuck by a needle or other sharp or get blood or other potentially infectious materials in your eyes, nose, mouth, or on broken skin, immediately flood the exposed area with water and clean any wound with soap and water or a skin disinfectant if available. Report this immediately to your employer and seek immediate medical attention.
CDC: Emergency Needlestick Information also provides immediate access to treatment protocols following blood exposures involving HIV, HBV and HCV, including the Clinicians' Post Exposure Prophylaxis Hotline (PEPline) at 1-888-448-4911.
- Most Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
- Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
- Comparison of Universal Precautions, Standard Precautions, and Transmission-based Precautions
- FDA, NIOSH and OSHA Joint Safety Communication on Blunt-Tip Surgical Suture Needles. (May 30, 2012).