Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms found in blood or other potentially infectious
material that can cause diseases in humans. Exposure to these pathogens mainly occur in health
settings and from accidents in other work environments. The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard was
introduced in 1991, with the primary objective being to minimize or eliminate chances of
exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This standard covered all employees who were likely to be
exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials in the course of performing their tasks.
It included requirements for employers to adhere to in order to protect their employees from
exposure. The revised version of the standard took effect in 2001, and has since had a global
impact in the lives of health care providers and general members of the public in the quest to
minimize infections from bloodborne pathogens. (Twithell, 2003)
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Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms in human blood or other potentially infectious
materials (OPIM), which have the potential of causing diseases such as HBV, HCV and the
Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
published the first Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens standard in 1991.The
standard was later revised in 2001 as a result of the Needlestick safety and prevention act. The
most recent amendment on the bloodborne pathogens standard was done in 2012.The standard
stipulates the requirements that employers have to adhere to in order to shield their workers from
exposure to blood and OPIM. Health care agencies are regularly inspected by OSHA to facilitate
compliance by employers the standard.
Requirements of the Standard
According to OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard of 2012, employers are mandate
to adhere to the following:
Written exposure control plan
Employers are required to prepare and categorize lists of potential job descriptions that
may lead to employee exposure, along with a list of duties that could lead to exposure an also
ensure accessibility of this plan to all employees.
The exposure control plan has to be updated yearly and include possible changes that
may be necessary based on employee safety standards evaluation.
All human blood, bodily fluids and OPIM should be treated as infectious material.
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Involves the use of devices designed to alienate bloodborne pathogen hazards from the
work space. Various devices have been designed for these purposes such as the use of sharps
disposal containers. These controls have to be updated regularly.
Work practice controls
These controls are practices that reduce the chances of exposure by creating more
efficient ways of avoiding or minimizing contact with pathogens that may lead to infections.
Labels and sins to communicate hazards
Containers and storage equipment should be well labelled in a standardized manner to
minimize contamination or exposure to contaminated samples or waste.
These should be provided to all employees facing potential exposure to bloodborne
pathogens. Employers must ensure that all protective equipment are in good working condition.
Hepatitis B vaccination
Vaccination must be administered to employees who have received the bloodborne
pathogens training and writing the first 10 days of performing tasks that involve occupational
Post exposure evaluation and follow up
This should be done at zero cost to the worker involved and must include a clear
documentation of events surrounding the exposure. It also involves periodic testing with the
workers consent, post exposure prophylaxis and counseling. (Judith Swan, 2017)
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Information and Training
Employees should be well informed and trained on all aspects of the standard. They
should be informed on blood borne pathogens and diseases and also take part in annual refresher
Training medical records
All records pertaining to training and exposure should be well documented and
Recent medical research has led to the development of vaccines and both pre and post
exposure prophylaxes that are also used to minimize infections from bloodborne pathogens. A
good example is the human immunodeficiency virus which can be mitigated through the use of
both Pre and post exposure prophylaxis. Most of the bloodborne pathogens infections however
can only be prevented pre exposure through the use of vaccines and precautionary measures as
stipulated in the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Continuous clinical research and general
medical practices will continue leading to the discovery of more efficient regulations to better the
standard the practices it stipulates.
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Judith Swan, M. C. (2017). Bloodborne Pathogens Training.
Twithell, K. T. (2003, January). Bloodborne Pathogens. What you need to know- Part 1, pp.