Frequently Asked Questions - Bloodborne pathogens
Infection control principles and practices for local public health agencies
Gwen Borlaug, Infection Control Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
(Phone 608-267-7711) (Fax 608-261-4976)
- If it is reasonable to anticipate skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials during job duties and tasks, the staff member must be included in an exposure control plan. For example, a public health nurse assigned to administer immunizations may have contact with blood or body fluids.
- Persons who give first aid as a good Samaritan act are not covered under the BBP exposure control plan unless they perform these duties as a part of their jobs. However, it is recommended that employers provide the hepatitis B vaccine if needed and other post-exposure follow-up due to liability issues, and to help prevent disease transmission among staff even in non-occupational exposures.
All staff need to have training at the time they are initially assigned duties with occupational exposure, and annually thereafter. Training must be at the educational level and in the language of the employee.
Training records, which are kept for three years from the date on which the training occurred, and medical records (e.g. hepatitis B vaccination status, exposure incidents and follow-up) which are kept for the duration of employment plus 30 years [29 CFR Part 1910.1030 (h)].
The plan must be reviewed annually and whenever new or modified tasks or procedures affect occupational exposure or there are new employee positions with occupational exposure.
There are no official requirements for persons doing training for BBP exposure control programs, but it is in the best interest of the employer to choose persons with knowledge in the subject matter that is required in the training. Examples of knowledgeable staff include nurses, nurse practitioners, infection control professionals, physician assistants, occupational health professionals, and emergency medical technicians.
Any of the following is an exposure and should be given immediate medical attention:
- a puncture of the skin with a used needle, lancet, or other sharp item, whether or not there is visible blood or OPIM present
- splashes or sprays of blood or OPIM into the eyes, nose, or mouth
- contact with blood or OPIM onto an open wound, an oozing lesion, or other area where there is significant skin breakdown
Employers are required to implement the entire standard which includes but is not limited to:
Employers bear the entire responsibility of complying with the standard, but the tasks listed below need to be done properly by staff:
- wear appropriate PPE for tasks and procedures in which occupational exposure may occur
- use and activate safety devices when handling needles and lancets
- dispose of infectious waste properly
- notify their supervisors immediately after they experience an exposure
- complete the required initial and annual training
- comply with all other aspects of the BBP exposure control plan
Gloves and other PPE may be placed in regular plastic bags for disposal. If they are saturated or dripping with blood or OPIM, they should be placed in a red biohazard bag.