OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard

The primary purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to promote and protect employee safety in the workplace. The agency does so by establishing standards for working conditions including possible exposure to hazardous substances.

In medical settings, exposure to blood and any potential bloodborne pathogens is very common. Here are some tips for meeting the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.

What is the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 5.6 million workers in the healthcare industry and related occupations are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and others. OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is a regulation that prescribes safeguards to protect workers against these health hazards.

It requires employers of workers who may be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials, such as certain tissues and body fluids, to take actions that include: 

  • establishing and implementing exposure control plans 
  • engineering and work practice controls 
  • hepatitis B vaccinations 
  • hazard communication
  • OSHA training

What is the Most Common Threat to Employees From Bloodborne Pathogens?

According to the American Medical Association, as many as 800,000 healthcare employees receive accidental needle sticks annually, and most go unreported. Studies show that as many as one-third of all sharps injuries occur during disposal, with nurses being the most likely to sustain needlestick injuries.

The CDC estimates suggest that 62 to 88 percent of sharps injuries can be prevented simply by using safer medical devices.

Employers must keep a Sharps Injury Log to record percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps; that information should help guide decision-making in choosing the safest options to prevent future sharps injuries.

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What are the Most Common Violations of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

It’s probably not a surprise to find the five most common OSHA violations directly relate to the requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.

  1. Failure to establish an effective written Exposure Control Plan
  2. Failure to provide an adequate employee OSHA training program
  3. Failure to review and update the Exposure Control Plan – This review must reflect changes in technology and document annual consideration and implementation of safer medical devices.
  4. Failure to provide Hepatitis B Vaccination, post-exposure evaluation and follow-up
  5. Failure to use and update effective engineering and work practice controls

How Can I Follow the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

The only way to become OHSA Compliant is to meet all of the requirements of the applicable standards. Compliance is binary – you either are compliant or you are not. The question is, do you go it alone, or do you seek help from people experienced in healthcare compliance?

Compliancy Group has almost 20 years of experience helping healthcare companies and their partners achieve their compliance goals. In addition to HIPAA Compliance for everyone, we now offer OSHA Compliance for dental practices.

We’re applying the same proven methodology to OSHA Compliance, within our healthcare compliance management tool The Guard, that has made it the industry standard for HIPAA Compliance. You’ll have all the tools necessary and model templates to make OSHA compliance as simple as possible.