Many occupations expose employees to bloodborne pathogens.

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious materials in blood that can cause disease when transmitted from an infected individual to another individual through blood and certain body fluids.

Bloodborne pathogens can cause serious illness and death. The most common illnesses caused by bloodborne pathogens are hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) resulting from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

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1. As part of Kevin's job, he is required to provide emergency first aid to employees that become injured or ill while at work. What are the three primary bloodborne pathogens Kevin must be aware of due to occupational exposure?

a. Influenza, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B
b. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C
c. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
d. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Measles

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Who is covered by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

The standard applies to all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

Injured Worker
Employees who provide first aid as part of their job are required to have training on occupational exposure.
  • Occupational exposure is defined as "reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM that may result from the performance of the employee's duties."
  • Blood is defined as "human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood."
  • Other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) means:
    1. Any of the following human body fluids:
      • semen and vaginal secretions;
      • cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and amniotic fluids;
      • saliva in dental procedures;
      • other body fluid visibly contaminated with blood; and
      • all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids;
    2. Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and
    3. 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.

2. Each of the following is considered other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) EXCEPT _____.

a. amniotic fluid
b. human blood
c. saliva during dental procedures
d. body fluids visibly contaminated with blood

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What is the purpose of OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

The purpose of the standard is to minimize or eliminate occupational exposure to disease-carrying microorganisms, or "pathogens," that can be found in human blood and body fluids.

Who must be trained under OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

OSHA has mandated annual training is required for all employees with potential occupational exposure. This means if there is a reasonable possibility an employee might be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious bodily fluids, they must receive training to minimize or eliminate their risk to potential exposure.

3. Who must be trained under OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

a. Everyone in a specific workplace or worksite
b. All employees other than administrative staff
c. Employees with actual exposure to blood or OPIM
d. Employees with potential exposure to blood or OPIM

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What are the primary bloodborne pathogens?

The primary bloodborne pathogens are:

  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Other commonly recognized pathogens transmitted by body fluids include:

  • West Nile Virus
  • Malaria
  • Syphilis

OSHA has determined employers can minimize or even eliminate occupational bloodborne hazards by developing and enforcing a combination of exposure control strategies which work for all bloodborne diseases. It is not enough for an employer to provide bloodborne pathogens training. They must also have a formal exposure control plan documented and implemented.

Training Is Not Enough; An Employer Must Implement A Formal Exposure Control Plan

4. As part of Allison's job, she is required to provide first aid treatment to those injured on the job. Which of the following bloodborne pathogens should she be aware of due to occupational exposure?

a. Influenza
b. Malaria
c. Strep throat
d. Allergies

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Stanley is an employee for a small manufacturing company. One of Stanley's job responsibilities is to respond to medical emergencies that might happen in the warehouse. Stanley has worked for his employer for five years and has never had to respond to an emergency.

Does Stanley still need to receive annual bloodborne pathogens training?


The frequency in which an employee is exposed to potential bloodborne pathogens is not the standard used to determine the need for training. Because there is a reasonable possibility that Stanley might be exposed to bloodborne pathogens as an employee, he must receive annual training. Neither Stanley nor his employer can predict when he might need to provide emergency medical care.

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