Record Keeping & OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires employers to keep and maintain medical, training, and exposure records for employees who have been exposed to bloodborne pathogens. Read on to learn about what information is included in these records.

Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the United States' primary agency that deals with safety in the workplace and the rights each person has as an employee. Each employment field has unique safety concerns, and OSHA does a pretty comprehensive job making sure all major issues are dealt with, regardless of the industry under consideration.

For example, let's look at the healthcare field. Healthcare professionals are at the front lines of dealing with sick and injured people, but at the same time, this means they are often putting themselves at risk of infection too. Infections occur when pathogens, harmful microorganisms, get into the body. There are a number of ways pathogens can be transmitted from one person to the next, but in this lesson we are explicitly interested in bloodborne pathogens, or those that spread through contact with contaminated blood from someone who has an infection. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are three bloodborne pathogens that can be spread between people.

To help regulate workplace safety for both healthcare workers and their patients, OSHA implemented the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. This document outlines preventative and response measures for exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. Though the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard has many parts, we are specifically interested in its record keeping requirements.

Record Keeping Requirements

Karen was possibly exposed to bloodborne pathogens after she was accidentally stuck with a used needle while working as a nurse. What does this mean for Karen's employer? Well, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires three types of records to be kept for any employee who is exposed to bloodborne pathogens at work.

Specific files and data must be maintained following an exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
Medical records

The first type is medical records for the affected employee. In this case, after the exposure incident occurred, Karen's employer had to start a medical record documenting her information and what happened. This record is required to be kept confidential and must be stored separately from any of the other files her employer may keep on her. Medical records must include the following information:

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