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Infection control and prevention - bloodborne pathogens

Infection control principles and practices for local public health agencies

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Bloodborne pathogens and exposure control

Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that cause disease and are present in human blood. They include but are not limited to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

OSHA issued the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR Part 1910.1030 (exit DHS) to protect health care workers and others who come in contact with blood and other potentially infectious material (OPIM) during their occupational duties. The purpose of the standard is to prevent occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens and to reduce the chances of infection when exposure does occur.

This standard requires employers to write and implement an exposure control plan for employees with occupational exposure to blood and OPIM, using administrative, engineering, and work practice controls to prevent or minimize employee exposure.

The exposure control plan must contain at least the following elements:

  • Cleaning/disinfection of contaminated equipment and surfaces 
  • Exposure determination - a list of all job classifications in which all employees in those classifications have occupational exposure (example: all employees classified as phlebotomists), or a list of job classifications in which some employees have occupational exposure, or a list of all tasks and procedures in which occupational exposure occurs (example: administering immunizations, doing finger sticks). Most local public health agencies will probably not have entire job classifications in which all persons have occupational exposure, but may have certain personnel with assigned duties that involve occupational exposure. 
  • Handling laundry 
  • Hazard communication 
  • Hepatitis B vaccination 
  • Maintenance of sharps injury log 
  • Post exposure follow-up 
  • Provision for hand hygiene practices 
  • Safe management and disposal of sharps 
  • Standard precautions - set of practices used with ALL clients to prevent contact with blood and OPIM 
  • Use of personal protective equipment 
  • Use of sharps with safety devices Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (exit DHS) 
    Waste management 
  • Work practices that reduce or eliminate exposure to blood and OPIM
    (example: no eating, drinking in potentially contaminated areas, using leak-proof containers for specimen storage)

Additional resources


Gwen Borlaug, Infection Control Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health 
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
(Phone 608-267-7711)  (Fax 608-261-4976)

Last Revised: August 05, 2014