If you’re an employer with employees with bloodborne pathogen exposure risk, OSHA may require you to mandate certain safety training as well as precautions for the workplace.
Do these OSHA requirements apply to you? Can an Online Bloodborne Pathogens certificate course help you meet this requirement? Should employees in these environments take the initiative to train themselves if their employer doesn’t require it?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Bloodborne Pathogen Training?
Bloodborne pathogen training is designed to teach employers and employees how to reduce the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens and manage those risks if they do occur.
It’s intended for people who are at risk of coming into contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) on the job. And you will also find it useful if you need to develop a safety plan to reduce the risk for others as an employer or worksite manager.
OPIM might include:
- Sharp objects
- Medical devices
- Worksite tools
- Saturated clothing
- Other bodily fluids that could contain blood (Saliva, Amniotic fluid, etc.)
At one time, an employer had to pull a bunch of employees into a classroom to perform annual training. And when someone new arrived in between annual training, they had to see that new employee down in an empty conference room to watch a minimally interactive training video.
But thanks to current technology, this training has become much more interactive, convenient, accessible, and self-paced. You can complete 100% Online Bloodborne Pathogen training and obtain a bloodborne pathogen certificate, demonstrating your expertise in bloodborne pathogens. You can do it on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
Does OSHA Require Bloodborne Pathogen Training?
Yes, in several cases.
Per OSHA.gov regulations, if you’re an employer with employees at risk of exposure to either blood or other possibly infectious materials (OPIM), you must train your employees initially and every year after that. If you update safety procedures mid-year, you’re also responsible for immediately providing training regarding that update.
OSHA makes clear that If you hire contract labor (aka: temporary employees), they are equally entitled to OSHA protection and must receive this training if they may be exposed. Similarly, staffing agencies that supply employees with contract labor are responsible for ensuring that training and precautions take place.
And we should note, if these hazards exist, OSHA requires initial training of all employees and contract labor regardless of previous training.
When evaluating an Online Bloodborne Pathogens course for yourself or your team, be sure it adheres to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1910.103
How Does Osha Define Employee Risk of Exposure?
OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard says that an employee is at risk if the employer can reasonably anticipate that skin, eye, mucous membrane, mouth, or digestive tract may come in contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) as part of doing their job.
Who Does OSHA Require to Get this Training?
OSHA has created a shortlist of employees who might fall into this category. But it’s certainly not all-inclusive:
- Housekeeping and janitorial staff, depending on the work environment
- Nursing and other healthcare
- Emergency response workers
CDC.gov further clarifies that these professionals are also at risk:
- Body art
- Correctional workers
- Maintenance and waste workers
Some other types of employees for which pathogen training may be highly beneficial, depending on their exposure level, include:
- Teachers and Daycare professionals
- Scientists and Researchers
- Crime lab
- Hospice workers, including non-medical
- Laundry service workers, especially if they have medical industry clients
- Medical equipment techs
- Midwife and “Alternative” birthing clinics
- Physical, Occupational, Speech, Respiratory, Mental Health Therapists, etc.
- Blood or tissue bank workers
- Medical students
- Funeral and crematory worker
- Dentists and dental hygienists
- Nursing home staff
- Law enforcement
- Human resources
- Those working in an office that specifically supports people with known bloodborne illnesses, such as a law firm, community center, etc.
Training When Not Required by OSHA
So you work in one of these higher-risk jobs. But your employer or OSHA does not require training. What should you do?
Safety is a personal choice. So, even if you are not required to learn about pathogen transmission prevention, you certainly can do so online. And as an employer, you certainly can require pathogen training even if OSHA doesn’t technically require it.
For example, OSHA has specifically stated that most construction employers are not required to offer this training. But there has been some debate around this. They work in conditions where accidents may happen, and exposure occurs.
If you’re in construction or a similar hazardous industry, taking the initiative to learn more about bloodborne pathogens would certainly be beneficial.
Bloodborne pathogens pose a serious and often fatal risk to certain individuals. “Safety First” is always a good way to go.
How Long Is Bloodborne Pathogen Training?
Depending on the course depth and method, a course may take one to eight hours to complete. After completion, you take an exam to get your bloodborne pathogen certification.
Setting aside a block of time on your busy schedule for an 8-hour in-person training is quite a commitment. One of the great things about online bloodborne pathogen training is that employees can complete it at their own pace, pause the course as needed, and return later.
That works into even the busiest schedule. And if you’re a fast learner, you may be able to complete the course and become certified much faster than you would if you’d taken an in-person course.
What Does OSHA Require of Employers with Exposure Risk?
If you’re an employer who has employees at risk, you must develop a site-specific plan for managing pathogen risk. This will vary depending on the work environment. It should include:
- Create an exposure plan
- Update the plan annually
- Implement Universal Precautions (UP). Regardless of the known infection status, these include precautions around blood and certain bodily fluids.
- Identify engineering controls where technology can reduce risk
- Take other precautions to prevent contact according to the CDC or your industry’s standards.
- Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, eye protection
- Create a workplace safety policy
- Measure adherence to your policy
- Make Hep B vaccines available to those with potential exposure
- Complete post-exposure evaluation
- Maintain appropriate labeling in the workplace
- Keep your medical and training records
How Do People Come in Contact with Dangerous Pathogens on the Job?
You may be an employer wondering if your employees are at risk, so here are some of the top ways people come into contact with these pathogens.
First of all, realize that even though the focus is on blood, many fluids may contain traces of blood and should therefore be treated as a potential hazard.
- Pleural fluid (lung fluid)
- Synovial fluid (joint fluid)
- Peritoneal fluid (abdominal fluid)
- Cerebrospinal fluid (brain and spinal cord fluid)
- Amniotic fluid (fluid surrounding a fetus in the womb)
People may come into contact with blood or other fluids at work in many ways you might not expect, like:
- A blood sample gets punctured
- Working with medical waste
- Coming in contact with improperly disposed of needles, scalpels, and other sharps
- Other improperly disposed of medical waste
- Diabetic supplies are disposed of in the normal trash. OSHA says you’re not required to provide a separate place for diabetics to dispose of insulin needles as an employer. But you can require employees to provide their own safe disposal container.
- Helping a person during an emergency. Bystander CPR saves lives that would usually be lost by the time first responder help arrives. You may have CPR certification and perform CPR on a person who has an open wound, exposing yourself.
- Cleaning up blood or bodily fluid
- Contacting someone sexually
- A needle prick accident
- Sharing needles
- From mother to infant at birth or in utero
- Body fluids contact broken skin
- Assisting a shooting or knifing victim
Is Bloodborne Pathogen Training Part of OSHA-10
Yes. A basic overview of bloodborne pathogens is part of an OSHA-10 or OSHA-30 course. It doesn’t go in-depth as part of a larger safety course, so employees with greater risk should certainly supplement with more in-depth training.
What Bloodborne Pathogens Should You Be Worried About?
HIV might come to mind when you think about Online Bloodborne Pathogens training. But the risk and education go beyond HIV.
The most commonly covered contagions in a bloodborne pathogens course include:
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Hepatitis C (HCV)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
These are the ones that put healthcare workers most at risk. So they get a lot of coverage in the educational materials.
But there are some other serious infections CDC.gov has identified as a risk. You’ll learn indirectly to prevent them through pathogen management education:
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- Parasites like plasmodium (malaria), Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Staphylococcus epidermidis (a bacteria that causes a severe heart infection called endocarditis.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Mad cow disease
Courses like Heartsaver Bloodborne Pathogens or the Save-a-Life Bloodborne Pathogens course may also cover co-morbidities, such as diabetes, which may increase the risk of contracting diseases in certain people.
How Do You Become Bloodborne Pathogen Certified?
To get certified, complete a 100% Online Bloodborne Pathogens course. You can learn at your own pace with images, videos, eBooks, practice tests and scenarios. When you’ve completed the course, use the study guide to review and make sure you retained the material. Then take your untimed exam. You’ll need 80% to pass and receive your certificate.
What Are the Benefits of Getting an Online Bloodborne Pathogens Certificate?
Getting your Online Bloodborne Pathogens certificate gives you the confidence that you learned and have retained health and life-preserving information. You’ll know what to do to stay safe and promote safety around yourself. But you’ll find some other benefits accompany your certificate.
If you’re an employer, you’ll have the basis on which to create an OSHA-compliant job role or site-specific training program of your own. You may also choose to require an online blood pathogens training program as part of your adherence to OSHA regulations. Team discounts make it cost-effective to offer this training to employees.
If you’re a medical professional, getting your certificate earns you up to 3 AMA Category 2 Continuing Medical Education Credits (CME).
This certificate looks great on your resume for other job roles like teacher, security, housekeeping, or corrections officer where exposure to bloodborne pathogens may occur. It demonstrates your commitment to being a lifelong learner and performing at your best on the job.
Employers like to see a First Aid or CPR certification on your employment record. While getting a certificate doesn’t necessarily qualify you for any job, if all else is equal when you’re applying for a job or promotion, certifications like these can become the determining factor.
What Do You Learn in Bloodborne Pathogens Safety Training
In an online bloodborne pathogens course you will:
- Learn more about where you might come into contact with bloodborne pathogens
- Understand the risks of contracting a bloodborne disease. While some bloodborne diseases are mild and treatable. Others may cause significant health complications and be with you for life. With current medicine, you can’t undo contracting HIV, for example.
- Learn how to clean up fluids that may contain blood correctly to limit your risk.
- Know how to use PPE correctly and why it’s so important
- Find out how bloodborne pathogens transmit
- What to do if exposure does occur. For example, you just pricked your finger with an incorrectly disposed of diabetic testing needle. Now what?
- Generate a sense of responsibility for reducing the risk of exposure for both yourself and those around you.
- Learn how to become an active participant in reducing exposure risk
OSHA Training for Bloodborne Pathogens
If you face potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens, make sure you have the training you need to protect yourself. Online Bloodborne Pathogen Training makes these skill available to anyone with an Internet-enabled phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. So there’s no reason not to complete this important course. Share your story with us how Online Bloodborne Pathogens Training has helped you at work.