OSHA bloodborne pathogens training is mandatory in some industries, but how does it affect your cleaning business?
Many cleaners don’t have to worry much about bloodborne pathogens. After all, it’s rare to find blood in an office, a warehouse, or most other work environments. But what about cleaners who have hospitals and healthcare facilities as clients? More importantly, what do those cleaners have to do in regards to OSHA bloodborne pathogens training?
Bloodborne pathogens standard
If you aren’t already familiar, “OSHA” stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In 1991 OSHA established a standard of occupational practices regarding bloodborne pathogens, which they updated in 2001. As part of the standard, OSHA bloodborne pathogens training was made mandatory for certain businesses, primarily those in the healthcare sector.
But the mandate doesn’t stop there. Any employer whose employees have a reasonable risk of exposure are required to provide OSHA bloodborne pathogens training for their staff. In the case of a commercial cleaning company, that would include anyone who cleans or otherwise decontaminates an area where there was likely to have been blood, such as a physician’s office, a dentist’s office, or even a construction site.
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Benefits of OSHA bloodborne pathogens training
The primary benefit of OSHA bloodborne pathogens training is the safety of your employees. Any custodial staff that handles sharps bins, biohazard waste, or other potentially contaminated objects should know how to protect themselves against—and what to do in the case of—exposure. Some of the most important things an employee will learn from this training are things like exposure determination, exposure control plans, the effectiveness of personal protective equipment, what to do in the event of exposure, and medical and reporting follow-up after exposure.
Another benefit is that your clients can rest easy knowing you have a team properly trained in handling contaminated material. It may sound like a small thing, but clients will want to know that your employees are as educated as their own when it comes to bloodborne pathogens, especially if the client is a medical clinic or doctor’s office.
And of course, there are the legal and financial benefits of providing OSHA bloodborne pathogens training. In ambulatory health care settings alone, there were 238 federal citations issued between October 2015 and September 2016, resulting in over $415,000 in fines and outnumbering the next most frequent citation category by nearly triple. While going through training doesn’t guarantee you’ll avoid citations, it certainly works in your favor to ensure that all of your staff are aware of protocols and safety practices.
What does OSHA bloodborne pathogens training require of an employer? It’s a good question, as there are a number of employer responsibilities designated by the standard. For example, employers must provide personal protective equipment, like gloves and goggles. You must establish an exposure control plan that outlines circumstances in which employees might be exposed to bloodborne pathogens. It’s mandatory to provide ongoing training as well—a single session at the start of employment won’t cut it. And perhaps one of the most important requirements is that you make hepatitis B vaccinations available to all workers at no cost to them.
There are other requirements as well, which can best be explained by an expert during your own training session.
Complex as it is, the good news is that there are plenty of resources both online and in person that can help you comply with the OSHA standard. A few of these resources are listed below, but you can find other resources simply by searching for OSHA bloodborne pathogens training.
- Read the full text of the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard.
- Find a summary template you can tailor to your own company and provide to employees.
- Learn about OSHA resources specifically for the cleaning industry.
- Stay up to date with OSHA training resources.
- Take online training classes from Health First, the International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association, and eLeap.
- Register your employees for in-person training from the Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or the National Safety Council.
- If you have questions or concerns that you believe should be presented directly to OSHA, contact your regional office for more information.
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