Who is Covered? | Bloodborne Pathogens

The standard applies to every employer with one or more employees who can reasonably be expected to come into contact with blood and other specified body fluids in carrying out or in performing their duties.

The approximately 5.6 million workers covered by the bloodborne pathogens standard include 4.4 million health care workers in facilities such as hospitals and physicians' and dentists' offices and 1.2 million non-health care workers in law enforcement, fire and rescue, correctional facilities, research laboratories, and the funeral industry.

Although the majority of at-risk workers are in the healthcare field, exposures can also occur to workers in general industrial and office settings. In these facilities, employees at greatest risk for contacting blood or body fluids are those whose jobs include:

  • Medical and first aid response,

  • Maintenance and clean-up work,

  • Housekeeping and laundries.

Employers having at least one employee with one or more at-risk responsibilities must develop a blood-borne pathogens exposure control program. The program must evaluate tasks and procedures in the workplace that may involve exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials; identify workers performing these tasks; and implement a variety of methods to reduce the risks involved with exposure.

Blood and OPIM Definitions

In the bloodborne pathogens rule, OSHA defines "blood" as human blood, blood products, or blood components. "Other potentially infectious materials" (OPIM) are defined as including human body fluids such as saliva in dental procedures, semen, vaginal secretions; cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and amniotic fluids; any body fluids visibly contaminated with blood; unfixed human tissues or organs; HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures; and HIV or HBV-containing culture mediums or other solutions; and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids.

Occupational Exposure

Occupational exposure is defined as a "reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of the employee's duties." Determining occupational exposure and instituting control methods and work practices appropriate for specific job assignments are key requirements of the BBP standard. The required written control plan and methods of compliance show how employee exposure can be minimized or eliminated.

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