Back To CourseBloodborne Pathogens Training
7 chapters | 47 lessons
Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences
Believe it or not, we're all covered with microorganisms all the time! Don't panic though, most of the time these little critters are harmless and we coexist without any problems. However, sometimes these microorganisms find their way into our bodies and cause an infection; when this happens, they are known as pathogens.
There are different modes of transmission pathogens can take. Bloodborne pathogens move between people when someone is exposed to blood from an infected person. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are three diseases that can spread via bloodborne pathogens.
In this lesson, we're particularly interested in hepatitis B, a disease that causes serious liver damage and can lead to cirrhosis or even liver cancer.
Luckily, we've developed a vaccine for hepatitis B; after receiving a series of three shots, most people become immune to the disease. Because a vaccine exists, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to cover hepatitis B vaccinations for all employees who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens during their regular work duties. This requirement is part of OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, which provides prevention and response measures for exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace.
Many babies automatically begin their hepatitis B vaccinations right at birth. The vaccine is administered in three separate shots. For infants, the first shot is given when they are born, the second is given between 1-2 months of age, and the last is given between 6-18 months of age.
When adults receive the vaccine, it's still administered over three shots. The second shot is received about four weeks after the first, and the third shot is usually given around five months after the second. In adults, the vaccine is usually injected into the deltoid muscle, which is found around the shoulder.
Most people become immune to hepatitis B after they complete their series of vaccinations. Additionally, there's no risk of developing hepatitis B from the vaccine, and people usually don't need any 'booster' shots. Antibody testing after the third vaccination can determine immunity; if someone doesn't respond to the first round of three shots, they might be repeated, for a total of six vaccine doses. If, by chance, they still aren't immune after a second complete round, then the patient or employee is counseled on the risks they face and the steps they need to take if they are exposed, including treatment options.
So, we've learned what hepatitis B is and how the vaccine works. Now it's time to take a look at what an employer is required to do if they have employees who are at risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis B.
The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires an employer to provide hepatitis B vaccines to all potentially affected employees. The vaccines are free of charge and must be offered at a reasonable time to the employee. All employees should receive their first vaccine within 10 days of starting any job that has an exposure risk.
The only time an employee does not receive the hepatitis B vaccine is if they fall under one of these categories:
Additionally, an employer must ensure that every employee is fully trained on the efficacy of the hepatitis B vaccine, its safety, how it's administered, and the benefits of receiving the vaccine. During this training, employers must outline their exposure control plans, which include information, precautions, and practices for both preventing and treating accidental exposures.
Finally, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard has guidelines for treating accidental exposures. If an employee is not already vaccinated and is believed to have been exposed, they must start the vaccination series within 24 hours of the exposure incident. In this case, the series of three shots is given normally. They can be tested for antibodies around four months after the final vaccination is given and then tested for infection about six months after the final vaccination.
If an employee who has already received a complete vaccination is exposed, both they and the patient in question should be tested for antibodies and infection simultaneously. Follow-up testing should occur at four months (for antibodies) and six months (for infection) as listed above.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines set forth in the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard protect employees against exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. Hepatitis B is a bloodborne pathogen that we have a vaccine for, and most people become immune after receiving a full cycle of vaccinations. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires that employers must provide hepatitis B vaccines for all employees at risk of exposure, the vaccine is free of charge, it must be provided within a reasonable time, and employers must include full training about the vaccine. New employees should start the vaccination process within 10 days of starting work; if they opt out, they must sign a declination form stating they understand the possible repercussions. Finally, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard also outlines treatment options for employees who have not been vaccinated and for those who have been vaccinated.
The contents of the Study.com Site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Study.com Site ('Content') are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Study.com Site.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Study.com does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by Study.com, Study.com employees, others appearing on the Site at the invitation of Study.com, or other visitors to the Site is solely at your own risk.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CourseBloodborne Pathogens Training
7 chapters | 47 lessons
Next LessonHIV & HBV Control under OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard