What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious micro-organisms in human blood and/or blood components that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

OSHA defines blood to mean human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood.  Other potentially infectious materials, that may contain blood or carry infection include, but are not limited to:

  • Saliva
  • Urine
  • Semen and Vaginal Secretions
  • Feces
  • Mucus

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 5.6 million workers in the health care industry and related occupations are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens.  Worker’s in many professions including first responders, nurses/ health care professionals, and direct care workers, etc., all may be at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

What do I do if I have been potentially exposed to a bloodborne pathogen?

If you are stuck by a needle or other sharp, or if you get blood or other potentially infectious materials in your:

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Broken Skin

Immediately flood the exposed area with water and clean wound with soap and water or a skin disinfectant if available.  Report this directly to your supervisor, complete an Employee Injury Report, and seek immediate medical attention.

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