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8.11 Blood-Borne Pathogens and OPIM​​​​​​

Blood-borne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) can cause serious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis B. Location staff may have to deal with injuries from trips and falls, bloody noses, soiled undergarments, or vomit. By regulation, these bodily fluids must be treated as blood-borne pathogens or OPIM.

To comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules on blood-borne pathogens and OPIM, locations must develop a plan for dealing with blood-borne pathogens and OPIM. The plan should include the following elements:

  • Defining the substances that are considered blood-borne pathogens and OPIM

  • Identifying staff whose job classifications are at greatest risk for exposure to blood-borne pathogens or OPIM

  • Describing safe handling practices for blood-borne pathogens and OPIM, including clean up and disposal

  • Maintaining a process for exposure to sharps (needles used for treatment) and a log of exposures

  • Documenting when exposure to sharps occurs

  • Providing training in proper treatment methods and maintaining training records

  • Offering free personal protection equipment​ to employees who deal with blood-borne pathogens or OPIM

  • Providing free immunization against hepatitis B to at-risk employees who request it or have been exposed to blood-borne pathogens or OPIM

OSHA provides a template for developing a blood-borne pathogen/OPIM plan. Note, however, that most locations may not be required to design specific engineering controls because exposures are likely to arise accidentally and not during the normal course of services provided at the locations. The California Department of Industrial Relations provides answers to ​frequently asked questions about the blood-borne pathogens standard. A sample Blood-Borne Pathogens Exposu​re Control Plan​ is available for the locations.