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Bloodborne Pathogens

Principal Investigators (PI) are responsible for notifying ESSR of their laboratory's use of human blood, unfixed human tissue, and human cell lines. Registration is available online. PIs are also responsible for ensuring that all members of their laboratory receive both initial and annual refresher web-based Bloodborne Pathogens for Researchers training on preventing occupational transmission of bloodborne pathogens as required by the OSHA regulation. The web training may be taken at any time of the day (or night). Following completion of the program, individuals are eligible to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine - free of cost - at the University Health Center. ESSR also offers classroom training for all non-laboratory employees who have occupational exposure to human blood or other potentially infectious materials.

The CDC estimates that 62% to 88% of the approximately 580,000 needlesticks from contaminated sharps that occur in the U.S. each year could be prevented by selecting safer medical devices. Based on these data, OSHA has revised its bloodborne pathogens standard to clarify the need for employers to select safer needle devices and to involve employees in identifying and choosing the devices. The updated standard also requires employers to establish a log to track needlesticks rather than recording only those cuts or sticks that actually lead to illness, and to maintain the privacy of employees who have suffered these injuries.

Examples of safer medical devices are:

  1. sharps with engineered sharps injury protections, a built-in safety feature or mechanism that effectively reduces the risk of an exposure incident, and
  2. needless systems for the collection of bodily fluids after initial venous or arterial access is established.

If you use needles/syringes to draw human blood or to administer injections, you must solicit employee input in choosing safer devices and document this input in your Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan. Example forms for the evaluation of safer medical devices may be found at OSHA's website.

Please contact the Biosafety Officer if you have questions about your responsibilities under this new regulation.

The following fact sheet on this topic is available:


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