Bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) are microorganisms that cause diseases. These pathogens are spreadable through contact with an infected individual’s blood and sometimes other bodily fluids. If you work in a field where exposure to BBPs is likely, your employer will probably require you to have a bloodborne pathogen certification. This training helps keep workers safe as they carry out their jobs and assists employers in limiting their liability in case of an accident.
It’s also an essential part of safety training in many industries.
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Jobs that require BBP certifications
Various industries and even specific jobs may require an employee to have bloodborne pathogen awareness. These jobs will likely require specialized training in recognizing dangerous situations and learning ways to mitigate the risks of exposure.
For example, a professional crime scene cleanup crew can find themselves in a situation where it’s impossible to avoid exposure to blood. Similarly, other jobs pose a high risk of exposure to blood and the potential dangers that may lie within it.
Some common jobs requiring BBP certification include healthcare professionals such as nurses, doctors, EMTs, paramedics, dental employees, nursing home staff, medical equipment repair technicians, and most other healthcare workers.
There are also a few other industries adjacent to health care where workers risk exposure to bloodborne pathogens. For example, emergency response professionals such as jail guards, law enforcement, and firefighters may risk exposure to BBPs and need certification to help keep them safe.
Other professions that may need to have tools at their disposal to help keep them safe from BBPs are laboratory technicians, janitors, teachers, and tattoo artists.
What is BBP (Bloodborne Pathogen) certification?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains that employers must implement an exposure control plan to reduce or eliminate the risks of occupational exposure to BBPs. OSHA’s standard requires that employers whose staff may risk exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials comply with regulations that keep workers safe.
Accordingly, bloodborne pathogen training is often the first stop for healthcare workers in training like nursing students. The training focuses first on risk awareness, then on learning to guard oneself against potential infection and other dangers that pathogens may pose.
For example, a BBP (Bloodborne Pathogen Certification) certification course may start by explaining that blood and other bodily fluids could potentially carry HIV, Hepatitis, Brucellosis, Syphilis, or other pathogens. Some content will describe the transmission of BBPs and how to prevent the spread of pathogens.
Then, the students will learn how to use universal precautions, like donning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to help keep them safe at work. Some training will focus on general safety techniques and procedures, post-exposure actions, and how to dispose of contaminated materials properly.
They’ll also learn about the rules designed to keep workers safe so that they can help hold their employer accountable to the standards outlined in OSHA’s standards. For example, each employer will have to provide their employees with the company’s Exposure Control Plan.
Employers must also maintain careful records of their training. For example, they must record who was trained on BBPs and when, the name and qualifications of the instructor, and the specific type of training provided.
Who is at risk from BBP exposure?
Anyone who comes into contact with another person’s blood is potentially at risk. Some types of exposure are relatively obvious, while others are less so.
For instance, a nurse who dresses a patient’s wound or a technician who collects a blood donation with a needle is in close contact with fresh blood. They would want to take steps to limit their risks of exposure, so they would use gloves, place the used needles and contaminated dressings in appropriate receptacles, and wash their hands thoroughly after providing treatment or collecting blood.
But the risks don’t stop there. The bloody bandages and the used needles are both contaminated with blood. That means that the janitorial staff who collects those materials also needs training in bloodborne pathogens.
Even further downstream, the sanitation workers, medical waste haulers, housekeeping staff, laundry service employees, and others require OSHA-approved training to keep them safe from BBPs.
Staying safe with bloodborne pathogen certification
Workers who may risk exposure to another individual’s blood benefit from BBP certification. It helps keep them safe while they go about their job.
An employer has a responsibility to comply with the occupational regulations that govern the workplace. They can limit the risks to their staff through engineering controls, routine evaluations, recordkeeping, and hazard communication.
When they combine those efforts with bloodborne pathogen training and certification, they reduce the risk to their workers and their own liability in case of an accident.
When do workers get BBP training?
Workers will need to complete BBP training when they begin their employment, even before they start work. Then, when they are assigned to work duties that potentially require exposure to blood, they’ll probably have to demonstrate their skills.
If you transfer to another job, you may have to repeat your training or demonstrate your qualifications.
Typically, each worker will also need to review their training each year, even if they don’t change jobs and the risk remains the same. They might have to demonstrate their ability to put on, take off, and properly dispose of PPE, like gloves, face shields, and gowns.
Employers must keep records proving that every worker has had all their required training and possesses a valid BBPs certification. The government has the right to inspect those records at any time.
Bloodborne pathogen certification is a requirement for jobs where there is a risk of exposure to blood products and other sources of potential infection. You can get a bit of a leg up on others by taking an online course and earning your bloodborne pathogens certification.
Doing so is not only an excellent way to help you land a new job, but learning about BBPs and how to mitigate your risk will keep you safe, even if you’re handling potentially dangerous materials.