OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is common to many of you. Workers in a variety of different occupations are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, which also includes exposure to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS. Employees in healthcare, housekeeping, health clubs and gyms, dentistry, funeral homes, law enforcement, and first-aid and emergency responders are some of the most commonly affected.
OSHA issued the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (“BPS”), in 1991. BPS was intended to protect workers from the risk of exposure to bloodborne Pathogens and, in turn, to the associated viruses. In 2001, in response to the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, OSHA revised the BPS. The revised standard addressed the need to select safer needle devices and the importance of involving employees in making those selections. The updated standard also imposes recordkeeping requirements for injuries relating to contaminated sharps.
Pursuant to BPS, employers must identify the job duties or tasks and the job classifications where occupational exposure to blood occurs. The list must be put into writing and it must not take into consideration whether the employee would likely be wearing personal protective clothing and equipment. Then, armed with that information, employers must create and implement standards and procedures for evaluating the risk involved in the identified circumstances. The plan must be accessible to employees and available to OSHA. The written plan must be revaluated annually, or earlier if conditions require.
In addition to the recordkeeping and procedures-based requirements, BPS also imposes requirements relating to the rights of employees. Employees must be given training in accordance with BPS requirements. They are also entitled to receive certain notices, and access to the policies that are being implemented and reviewed. All employees who risk exposure to hepatitis B must be offered vaccination.
Finally, BPS also mandates certain procedures in the event of an exposure incident. Employees must be provided with a post-exposure evaluation and follow-up must be provided to all employees who have had an exposure incident. The follow-up testing must be provided at no cost to the employee.