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OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030

Quick Tips #105

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OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030 applies to all persons who may reasonably anticipate contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials in the course of their employment. This includes contact with skin, eyes, mucous membranes or contact from piercing the skin. The focus of the regulation is the creation of a written exposure control plan that describes how the employer will protect employees from exposure. The following will outline the components that must be included in an exposure control plan. (29 CFR 1910.1030(c))

Exposure Determination

An exposure determination is a listing of all job classifications in which employees will be exposed (i.e., doctors and nurses) or may occasionally be exposed, such as custodians and laundry workers, to potentially infectious materials on the job. Any specific procedures or tasks in which exposure occurs must also be listed without regard to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). (29 CFR 1910.1030(c)(2))

Employee Education and Training

Employees will receive annual training to be sure they understand the hazards associated with bloodborne pathogens, the modes of transmission, the exposure control plan, OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard itself, the use and limitations of engineering controls, new devices which utilize updated technologies, work practices and PPE. Other topics discussed at this training should include: what to do when confronted with an emergency involving blood or other potentially infectious materials; post-exposure evaluations; the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine; and the use of signs and labels. (29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2))

Control Measures

The employer shall take appropriate preventative measures against occupational exposure. These include engineering controls and work practice controls. Engineering controls include biohazard fume hoods, puncture-resistant sharps containers, biohazard waste containers, mechanical pipette devices and others to permanently remove the hazard or help isolate the worker from exposure. As new devices become available due to updated technologies, they should be incorporated as engineering controls. These also include needleless devices, needles with sheaths and blunt suture needles. Work practice controls include hand-washing policies, sharps handling procedures, proper waste disposal techniques and more to reduce the likelihood of exposure through the alteration of the manner in which the task is performed. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2))

Employers shall provide PPE to employees with occupational exposure to eliminate or minimize the risk of infectious material entering their bodies. PPE is considered to be appropriate only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through or reach the employees' outer clothing, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use. Following is a list of PPE and when it should be used.

  • Gloves: Wear whenever hand contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials is possible. Disposable (single-use) gloves, such as examination gloves, must be replaced as soon as possible when contaminated or when their ability to function as a barrier is compromised. They are not to be reused. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)(ix)(A))
  • Utility gloves can be reused if decontaminated, but must be discarded if cracked, discolored, punctured or showing any signs of deterioration. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)(ix)(c))
  • Masks, eye protection and face shields: Use in combination whenever splashes, spray or droplets of infectious materials are generated. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)(x))
  • Gowns, aprons and other protective clothing: Wear when exposure to the body, head, feet, or clothing is possible. The type and characteristics of the covering will depend on the task and the exposure anticipated. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)(ix))
  • CPR mouthpieces: Use when CPR is given. Mouthpieces should have a one-way valve to prevent contamination from the victim. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)(i))
HBV Vaccinations

Once employees receive training, vaccinations should be made available to those who run the risk of exposure. (29 CFR 1910.1030(f)(2))

Post-Exposure Evaluation and Follow-Up

Employers shall provide a confidential medical evaluation for any employees involved in an exposure incident. The purpose of this evaluation is to document the exposure route and circumstances surrounding the incident, blood testing, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/hBV status of source and appropriate medical and psychological treatment. (29 CFR 1910.1030(f)(3))

Waste Disposal

All forms of blood or infectious materials, contaminated items that could release infectious materials or contaminated sharps must be placed in appropriate sharps containers or closable, color-coded or properly labeled leakproof biohazard waste containers or bags . Infectious waste shall be disposed of in accordance with federal, state and local regulations. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii))

Tags, Labels and Bags

Warning labels shall be attached to all containers used for the storage or transport of potentially infectious materials. The labels shall be orange or red-orange with the biohazard symbol in a contrasting color. Red containers or bags can be substituted for warning labels. (29 CFR 1910.1030(g))

Housekeeping and Laundry Practices

Employers shall create a schedule for periodic cleaning and appropriate disinfecting to ensure that the worksite is kept clean and sanitary. Contaminated laundry shall be placed and transported in properly labeled or color-coded bags and containers. (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)), (29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iv))


The employer shall maintain medical and training records for each employee who faces the possibility of being exposed or who has been occupationally exposed to a bloodborne pathogen (29 CFR 1910.1030(h)). Employers are also required to establish and maintain a sharps injury log.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   What are sharps disposal containers?
A.   A sharps container is a place to deposit sharp instruments (i.e., needles or medical cutting tools) for disposal. These containers are puncture-resistant, leakproof on the sides and bottom, closable and properly labeled or color-coded. They assure a higher level of safety than disposal bags.
Q.   Can biohazard bags or containers be both labeled and color-coded?
A.   Yes. OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard states that containers must be either properly labeled or color-coded. Having both simply exceeds the intent of the regulation.

29 CFR 1910.1030

“Model Plans and Programs for the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens and Hazard Communications Standards.” Â U.S. Department of Labor. 2003. OSHA Publication 3186.

"Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens," U.S. Department of Labor. 1992. OSHA Form 3127.

"Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens: Precautions For Emergency Responders," U.S. Department of Labor. 1998. OSHA Publication 3130.

"Bloodborne Pathogens and Acute Care Facilities," U.S. Department of Labor. 1992. OSHA 3128.

"Controlling Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens in Dentistry," U.S. Department of Labor. 1992. OSHA Form 3129.

(Rev. 8/2014)

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Please Note:
The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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