As many as 5.6 million healthcare workers face risks associated with bloodborne pathogens, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). That’s why OSHA mandates medical providers to undergo bloodborne pathogens training so that they can reduce risks associated with exposure. With bloodborne pathogens training and continuing education, healthcare workers learn to prevent the spread of contagion while safeguarding their own health and well-being as they perform their job. Here, we’ll explore training and compliance as it relates to bloodborne pathogens.
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Simply put, bloodborne pathogens are microscopic organisms that may be found in blood that cause diseases in humans. While there are many bloodborne pathogens, the most common are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV). Healthcare workers are at increased risk for contracting these viruses because of the nature of their work with individuals who may be suffering from these conditions. Healthcare workers may be exposed to these pathogens if they are exposed to a sharp object such as a needle that contains microscopic bloodborne pathogens or because of an injury that puts them in contact with blood or other potentially infectious tissue or bodily fluid.
Reducing Risks Associated with Bloodborne Pathogens
Fortunately, there are ways to significantly reduce the risks posed by these pathogens. OSHA recommends bloodborne pathogens training and continuing education to ensure that healthcare workers are aware of the risks and have the training they need to reduce them. In addition to wearing gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE), OSHA has developed standard precautions that medical institutions should take to maintain a culture of safety and to help staff protect themselves, each other, and patients.
OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Training
OSHA has outlined steps that employers should take to minimize employees’ exposure to bloodborne pathogens. They are outlined as:
Exposure Control Plan
Employers should create a written bloodborne pathogens plan that explains how employees can reduce exposure. The plan should be specific about employee job roles and their tasks.
Use of Warning Labels and Signs
Employers must clearly label sharp objects (needles), waste, or other containers/equipment associated with potentially infectious materials.
Employers must provide PPE and instruct staff in their proper use. Employers should also monitor staff to ensure they are adhering to all safety protocols.
Employers must ensure that their housekeeping staff decontaminates surfaces with proper solutions and understands how to safely handle contaminated items according to OSHA standards.
Employers should offer hepatitis B vaccinations free of charge to their employees.
Healthcare employers must maintain a log of injuries related to sharps, provide treatment to employees, and monitor affected employees to determine if they contracted infection.
Bloodborne Pathogens Training and Record Keeping
Employees must undergo bloodborne pathogens training as part of the employment agreement. Medical employers must maintain accurate record keeping of all employee training in this regard.
Failing to comply with OSHA regulations can result in serious penalties, including loss of accreditation or even closure. With high-quality bloodborne pathogens training and continuing education, employers can help keep their setting safer for employees and patients.