Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

Biohazard symbol

The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) applies to any employee who through the performance of their job may reasonably be expected to have exposure to human blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

OSHA defines Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM) as:

  • The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids;
  • Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and
  • HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.

At Vanderbilt, this includes the following employees:

Exposure Control Plan

A written Exposure Control Plan is required. 

Sharps Safety

Many employees are exposed to bloodborne pathogens each year while using needles and other sharps such as scalpels. As a result, there are extensive requirements for safe sharps included in the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Information about safety sharps approved for use in VUMC are listed on the Department of Infection Prevention web site. For advice on safety sharps to use in your lab, see Using Sharps Safely in the Laboratory.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

OSHA requires that Hepatitis B vaccine be provided to any employee who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens through the course of their work. The Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) provides this service to any affected employee. If an employee decides not to be vaccinated, that employee must complete the Hepatitis B Vaccine Declination Form (available on the OHC web site), and submit the signed form to the OHC.

Work Practice Controls

Work Practice Controls refers to procedures that reduce the likelihood of exposure by performing work using safer methods. An example of this would be to use safe sharps, and if safe sharps cannot be used, then only recap a needle using a one-handed scooping technique.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is specialized clothing or equipment worn for protection against a hazard. Examples of PPE that may be worn to protect against exposure to bloodborne pathogens include gloves, faceshields, splash goggles, lab coats, surgical gowns, and similar clothing that can provide a protective barrier.

If you are exposed to blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials:

  1. Immediately clean skin with soap and water. If exposure was due to a splash to the eyes, nose or mouth, flush thoroughly with water or normal saline for 15 minutes. Remove contact lenses if exposure was to the eyes.
  2. Seek medical care as soon as possible.
    • Employees should go to the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic (640 Medical Arts Building). If exposure occurs after hours, report to the Emergency Department. Report to Occupational Health Clinic for followup the next business day.
    • Students should report to the Vanderbilt Student Health Center. If exposure occurs after hours, report to the Emergency Department.

Employees or their supervisor must report a blood or body fluid workplace injury using the online form available through the Risk and Insurance Management web site. If online access is unavailable, or if you have difficulty accessing the online form, call them at 936-0660 to request assistance.

Clean up a blood or body fluid spill:

Bloodborne Pathogen Standard Training

Additional Resources


OSHA References


EPA Antimicrobial Products

Vanderbilt Resources

Questions about Bloodborne Pathogens

If you work in the Medical Center, please contact the Department of Infection Prevention.

If you work in a research lab, please contact the OCRS Biological Safety Section.

If you have questions about the Hepatitis B vaccine, please contact the Occupational Health Clinic.