Handling blood and other bodily fluids comes with its own set of risks and dangers, and that means it’s a perfect subject for specialized training. When your employees have to come into contact with blood, or any biological material, as part of their work, it’s essential to invest in training to make sure they’re treating the specimens responsibly and keeping themselves safe.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers dealing with biological material to give employees this kind of training. That alone would be reason enough to invest in courses — but as with so many regulations, compliance is just a baseline. Going beyond OSHA guidelines and being even safer is a good practice to embrace.
Even if it’s not normal for workers to be dealing with blood, there’s always a chance they’ll encounter it anyway, in the course of administering first aid during an emergency for example. This means bloodborne pathogens training isn’t just for companies in specific industries; instead, it’s something anyone should consider adding to health and safety training.
OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Training Requirements
The OSHA bloodborne pathogens requirements are clear where training is concerned, and have been restated in clarifying letters over the years. The OSHA regulations state you need to train employees on hire and annually on proper protection and safety, even if they’ve had relevant training or education in the past, whether at your company or with a previous employer.
The workers required to take OSHA bloodborne pathogens training are defined as employees exposed to either human blood, other potentially infectious material (OIPM) or both. By knowing the correct handling and disposal of such materials, these workers are keeping themselves, their colleagues and the public safe from a host of bloodborne illnesses.
OSHA did note in a 2007 public letter that while such employees do need to receive training on bloodborne pathogen protection when hired and every year thereafter, the training does not always have to be the same module, though it must cover all the topics falling under the bloodborne pathogen umbrella.
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard: What To Know
All the OSHA-sanctioned training around bloodborne pathogen protection is in service of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, which lays out the general guidelines employers need to abide by when potentially exposing workers to biological substances. The standard covers:
- Exposure control plan creation: Employers must have a strategy in place to lessen the risk of exposure to all bloodborne pathogens, which includes a listing of potentially exposed workers and their responsibilities.
- Annual updates to the plan: An exposure control plan is a living document that should receive an annual once-over. This should reflect operational changes, new technology, the use of newly available devices and input from frontline workers about how to keep them safer.
- Universal precaution use: This standard calls for workers to treat all blood and OPIM as if it were dangerous, to promote general safety.
- Application of engineering controls: Using the right devices to prevent pathogen exposure is essential. This could mean effective containers to dispose of needles, as well as safer delivery methods, potentially including needleless devices.
- Use of work practice controls: In addition to purchasing the best medical devices, employers can put best practices in place to protect their workers.
- Provisioning of personal protective equipment (PPE): Access to appropriate, clean, repaired and frequently refreshed PPE is an employee’s first line of defense against bloodborne pathogens — and there should be no cost to employees.
- Hepatitis B vaccination: The vaccine has to be available to workers within 10 days of taking on an exposed role, after the relevant bloodborne pathogens training session.
- Care and post-exposure evaluation: If a worker is exposed to blood or OPIM, the employer must provide and pay for an evaluation and follow-up to test for relevant diseases.
- Labeling and hazard communication: Signs and warning labels on waste receptacles, biological samples and the doors of facilities dealing with research into bloodborne pathogens.
- Medical and training recordkeeping: Employers must retain medical records, a log of employees’ potential bloodborne pathogen exposure and documentation of training status.
- Training and education: The OSHA bloodborne pathogen training requirement dictates workers need training on all relevant elements of bloodborne pathogens protection, both at initial assignment and every year. This should be provided in a language workers speak, and they should have the chance to ask questions. Furthermore, employees in labs dealing directly with bloodborne pathogens need to offer specific training regarding the unique risks of those environments.
What To Expect From Bloodborne Pathogens Training
What does a course on bloodborne pathogen protection actually consist of? The exact content will depend on the specifics of the module in question. To demonstrate, here are three courses offered as part of the Video Training Power library:
- Bloodborne Pathogens: This video instructs workers across business types on the best practices around blood and OPIM safety, giving insights into OSHA-mandated practices such as the creation and upkeep of an exposure control plan.
- Bloodborne Pathogens General Awareness: This course is a primer in the illnesses that can come from bloodborne pathogen exposure, while also covering standard precautionary measures and compliance with OSHA bloodborne pathogen requirements.
- Cal/OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens: This module gives an overview of the diseases that can come from bloodborne pathogens and uses the California OSHA Exposure Control Plan as a guide for protecting against an exposure incident in the workplace.
As an employer, you can select courses that target your specific industry or workplace type, as well as materials aimed at a particular point in an employee’s tenure — for instance, initial onboarding. Work with a deep library like Video Training Power’s and you’ll have no trouble matching materials to your needs.
Access an Extensive Library of Training Videos For Your Classroom
Modern companies demand training that’s up to date and offers true insights, rather than just rote presentation of information. This high-quality content is designed to earn true engagement from learners. The Video Training Power library, always updated and fresh, contains a long list of training videos and effective navigational tools to get employees exactly what they need.
When dealing with a high-pressure topic, such as keeping your workforce safe from bloodborne pathogens and the dangerous medical conditions that can come along, it’s important to prepare them with the best available courses. Get started with Video Training Power today.