Unit 6: Clinical Operations
Clinical administration

Section 2: Infection Control, Environmental Health, and Safety

Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention

OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030, effective 1992 and revised 2001 )contains provisions to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens and is OSHA’s primary infection prevention and-control standard. The scope of the standard applies to potential and actual exposures to blood and serum body fluids and occupational risk of bloodborne pathogens exposure (such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C). The regulation prescribes safeguards to protect workers against health hazards related to bloodborne pathogens including exposure-control plans, engineering and work practice controls, hepatitis B vaccination, use of safer medical devices, hazard communications and training, and recordkeeping.

OSHA’s website provides an overview of  bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention and important information in support of the standard. It details federal and state legislation and requirements such as those related to state plans, exposure control plans, sharps injury logs, and how the standard was amended pursuant to the 2000 Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act.

The standard requires employers who have employees with a risk of exposure to blood and serum body fluids to develop a written exposure plan compliant with the regulations in the bloodborne pathogens standard. There are 28 OSHA-approved state plans, which have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA’s.


Post-Exposure Management

An area of great importance in infection prevention and control is post-exposure management of bloodborne exposure incidents, including needlestick and other contaminated sharps injuries. OSHA has specific regulations in the bloodborne pathogens standard outlining employer obligations for pre-exposure prevention (such as administrative controls, engineering controls, and work practices) and post-exposure management and medical follow-up. OSHA states in the bloodborne pathogen standard 1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)(D) that post-exposure management and medical follow-up be “provided according to recommendations of the U.S. Public Health Service current at the time these evaluations and procedures take place…”

The Clinician Consultation Center at the University of California San Francisco provides expert advice on managing occupational exposure incidents involving HIV, and Hepatitis B or C. The center has the most up to date information on this subject. The center has a toll-free phone line (888) 448-4911) that operates every day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.