What is Bloodborne Pathogen?
A pathogen is defined as a microorganism, such as a bacterium or virus, that is able to cause disease. Some examples of bloodborne pathogens include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), malaria, Hepatitis B (HBV), and Hepatitis C. As you may be aware, these are all very serious illnesses to contract, and none of them are currently 100% curable, although scientists are making great strides on effective treatments. However, the best treatment for these diseases is to protect yourself from contracting them in the first place.
How can I get infected?
Bloodborne pathogens are spread when blood or bodily fluids from an infected person enter another individual’s body through bites, mucous membranes, cuts, or puncture-wounds. There are four main methods of contracting bloodborne pathogens:
- Direct contact. When infected fluids from one individual enter another individual’s body.
- Indirect contact. When infected fluids from one person contaminate a surface or item that another individual will have to interact with.
- Respiratory droplet transmission. When an individual inhales contaminated body fluids from an infected person, for example, if an infected individual coughs or sneezes around you.
- Vector-borne transmission. When an individual’s skin is perforated by an infected source, such as getting a bite from a mosquito carrying malaria.
By taking bloodborne pathogen training, you’ll learn how to minimize the risk of infection against all of these transmission methods.
What is bloodborne pathogen training? Do I need to take it?
Bloodborne pathogen training is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for individuals who are exposed to blood and other infectious materials in their occupation. OSHA defines other potentially infection materials as:
- Human body fluids as follows: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids.
- Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a living or dead human.
- HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.
That means if you are a nurse, paramedic, doctor, dentist, or anyone else who may be in contact with contaminated bodily fluids, you will need to take bloodborne pathogen training.Even if you may not be directly in contact with infected individuals, but will be exposed to contaminated surfaces or items (needles, scalpels, drainage tubes, etc.) you will need to take the course. This training is required by law, and you can face up to a $70,000 fine if you don’t take the training and are audited.
Why should I take bloodborne pathogen training?
By taking this training, you’ll learn how to protect yourself from contracting serious, infectious diseases. If your job requires you to handle contaminated materials and objects or work with infected people, this is the best step you can take for prevention. Topics of bloodborne pathogen training courses will include:
- Engineering controls: methods that can be used to remove the risk of infections (eg. proper contaminated items disposal methods and de-contamination methods)
- Personal protective equipment: protective gear to reduce the risk of infection, including gloves, masks, aprons, and scrubs.
- Personal hygiene: preventing infection through personal cleanliness, including washing hands after handling contaminated materials.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting supplies and equipment:ensuring cleanliness of contaminated equipment through the use of proper physical or chemical cleaning processes.
- Post exposure evaluation and follow-up: in the case of an exposure incident, your employer will need to arrange for the appropriate confidential medical follow-up, including blood tests and counseling.
When all of these steps are put in place correctly, your risk of being infected by bloodborne pathogens can almost be completely eliminated.
Your employer may arrange for classroom training for the company, but if they don’t, you can take it online from organizations like CPR Select or American Red Cross. However, there are many organizations that offer this training, just be sure that it is recognized by OSHA. At the end of your training, you should receive a nationally recognized course completion card in the mail which will be valid for one year. It may be a good idea to set a reminder on your calendar so you’ll remember to re-certify yourself the next year. And don’t forget to speak with your employer after taking the training, as your workplace will have specific bloodborne pathogen procedures and policies you’ll need to follow.
I’m an employer- do I need to do more than just the course?
If you are an employer and your employees may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens, you are required to have a written exposure control plan for your workplace as part of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. This plan will be used to negate occupational exposures to these pathogens, and it is suggested by OSHA your plan follow their online templates. Additionally, employers must also provide Hepatitis B vaccinations and all personal protective equipment to employees at no cost to them. You will also be responsible for providing cleaning for the employees’ personal protective equipment, and replacing it when needed.
If you’d like to learn more about bloodborne pathogen standard or looking for the bloodborne pathogen certification, you can check out the standard on CPR Select or call them at 1-866-610-8435.