Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that can spread from a sick person to others through exposure to blood and body fluids.
- Hepatitis B and C virus
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
These pathogens can cause debilitating health issues and possibly death.
Examples where bloodborne pathogens become a danger at work include:
- Needlesticks from used needles
- Splashes of infected body fluids into the eyes, nose, mouth, or onto broken skin.
- Cuts from contaminated sharps.
Employers must protect employees potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens while performing their job.
Identify employees and work tasks with the potential to expose workers to blood, contaminated needles, or other potentially infectious materials.
Other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) are body fluids and tissue that can contain bloodborne pathogens.
Tasks that could involve exposure include:
- Taking out trash that may contain sharps or needles.
- Picking up or throwing away used needles.
- Handling laundry that may have blood, other potentially infectious materials on it, or that may contain sharps or needles.
- Surgeries, biopsies, and dental examinations
- Giving injectable medicines
Avoid handling blood, OPIM, or contaminated items. If these must be handled have a procedure on how to do it safely and provide the appropriate personal protective equipment.
Write an Exposure Control Plan that identifies the jobs with possible exposure to blood or OPIM and explains the protective measures in place to reduce or eliminate the dangers of the exposures identified.
Train employees about bloodborne pathogen exposures so they are informed about the dangers and how to stay safe.
Make hepatitis B vaccinations available to employees at no cost.
Use work practices controls, personal protective equipment, or other methods to protect employees who have on-the-job exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
Summary of Requirements
The bloodborne pathogens standard applies if you have employees who could have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), even if no actual exposure incidents (e.g., needlesticks or cuts) have yet occurred.
In general, the rule requires covered employers to:
- Develop and implement a written exposure control plan that includes a written determination of the employees with the potential for BBP exposure.
- Train exposed employees and maintain a record of that training.
- Provide Hepatitis B vaccinations to employees.
- Avoid handling BBP and contaminated items, when feasible -- if that’s not possible:
- Ensure the use of feasible controls, like tongs or magnetic grabbers, to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure.
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment and ensure it is properly used and maintained.
When dealing with contaminated items:
- Properly and safely handle regulated waste, including contaminated needles and sharps.
- Handle contaminated laundry properly and safely
- Make sure contaminated items and waste are appropriately labeled
Ensure the worksite is clean and sanitary and employees wash their hands.
If CPR or first aid may be required, ensure resuscitator devices are available.
Should an exposure incident with a BBP occur to an employee, immediate medical care, including post exposure preventative treatments, must be made available per requirements.
Review the bloodborne pathogens program and exposure incidents annually. Include employees in the review and selection of safer medical devices.
L&I’s safety and health consultants can help you understand how to apply this rule to your workplace.
- Employee Medical and Exposure Records, Chapter 296-802 WAC
- Recordkeeping and Reporting, chapter 296-27 WAC
- Fire Fighters, Chapter 296-305 WAC – WAC 296-305-01515 and WAC 296-305-02501
L&I procedures, enforcement guidance, and explanatory interpretations
- Law Enforcement (DD 32.00)
- Minors and Bloodborne Pathogens in Non-Medical Settings (ES.C.4.2)
Meeting Workplace Safety & Health Requirements
You can use these materials to help you meet specific requirements in L&I Safety & Health rules.
Tailor these trainings to help meet the training requirements of the rule.
- BBP Self-paced online training course
- BBP Presentation and Training Kit
- BBP Training Documentation Form
- BBP Hepatitis B Vaccine Declination Form
- BBP Health Care Professional's Written Opinion for Post-Exposure Evaluation
- BBP Sharps Injury Log
Sample Written Program
- Sample Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan - Tailor this program to your jobsite.
- Bloodborne Infectious Diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C (NIOSH)
- Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention (OSHA)
- Karen Daley: The policy advocate. (Video) In 1998, nurse Karen Daley contracted HIV and hepatitis C from a needlestick injury.
Industry Specific Resources
An exposure incident where you can be infected with a bloodborne pathogen disease from another person occurs when blood or otherwise potentially infectious materials contacts:
- Broken skin
- Your eyes, nose, or other mucous membrane.
- Or is on or in something that pierces, cuts, abrades, or bites into skin.
Broken skin includes skin with:
- Acne, chapped skin, rashes, or burns
- Cuts or abrasions
- Dermatitis, sores, or lesions.
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.
Work related injuries are covered under workers’ compensation.
For topic-specific information, see also:
- Accident Prevention Program
- Biological Hazards
- First Aid
- Standard Precautions in Healthcare Settings