Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms present in blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. Workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens are at risk for serious or life-threatening illnesses.
All of the requirements of the (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) OSHA’s
Bloodborne Pathogens standard can be found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 29 CFR 1910.1030.
The standard’s requirements outline what employers must do to protect workers who are occupationally exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), as defined in the standard. That is, the standard protects workers who can reasonably be anticipated to come into contact with blood or OPIM as a result of doing their job duties.
Hepatitis: The word hepatitis means inflammation of the liver and also refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The delivery of healthcare has the potential to transmit hepatitis to both healthcare workers and patients. Outbreaks have occurred in outpatient settings, hemodialysis units, long-term care facilities, and hospitals, primarily as a result of unsafe injection practices; reuse of needles, finger stick devices, and syringes; and other lapses in infection control.
- Hepatitis B: is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
- Hepatitis C: is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis, or liver cancer.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV destroys white blood cells called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight disease. This results in a weakened immune system, making persons with HIV or AIDS at risk for many different types of infections. Although HIV transmission is possible in healthcare settings, it is extremely rare. However, proper sterilization and disinfection procedures are required to prevent infection risks. Most exposures do not result in infection.