Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) (Needlesticks)

Woman wearing labcoat and white gloves prepares to stick a syringe needle into a female patient -- Caption: Nationally, workers in the healthcare industry experience about 600,000 needle sticks and other injuries from sharp objects each year. Bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) refers to infectious microorganisms - such as Hepatitis B Virus, Hepatitis C Virus, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) - that can be transmitted through blood or other potentially infectious materials (for example, semen, vaginal secretions, synovial fluid (found in joints), and saliva in dental procedures) and can cause disease. Employers are required to protect workers who may be exposed to blood or OPIMs as a result of performing their job duties. Employers must develop and implement a written Exposure Control Plan with details on the protective measures in place to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

Examples of workers who can get exposed to BBPs include the following:

  • Medical and dental health care providers, including those in industrial, educational, and correctional facilities.
  • Laboratory technicians.
  • Housekeeping personnel and laundry workers in, or providing service to, health care facilities.
  • Employees who handle or pick up regulated waste.
  • Workers who handle human remains.
  • Fire fighters, paramedics, first-responders.
  • Law enforcement and correctional officers.
  • Employees assigned to provide emergency first aid by their employer (as either a primary or secondary duty).
  • Hotel/hospitality staff who perform housekeeping tasks.
  • Restaurant workers with clean-up/custodial duties.
  • Personal care service providers such as hair stylists.
  • Tattoo artists and body piercers.
Two paramedics wearing protective eyewear and gloves working with a patient whose head is strapped to a gurney -- Caption: Paramedics and other first responders can be exposed to blood from a sharps injury, such as a needlestick after use on a patient or a cut from a contaminated sharp object; a splash to the eyes, nose, or mouth; or contact on non-intact (broken or cracked) skin.


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