The OSHA BBP Standard was developed specifically to protect laboratory personnel from unknown or undiagnosed pathogens, such as Ebola, in blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Exposure to BBP occurs by way of mucous membranes, nonintact skin, and sharps-related injuries, including needle stick injuries. The CDC specifies that laboratories following ALL of the practices stated in the OSHA BBP standard, can safely handle EVD specimens.
The BBP Standard requires employers to implement several elements to prevent the transmission of potentially infectious agents, some of which include:
- Written exposure control plan (ECP) to reduce or eliminate exposures. It must be updated annually to reflect new information (such as emerging pathogens), and modified tasks and procedures, which affect occupational exposure to BBP.
- Supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) and engineering controls to employees and training to ensure proper use.
- Annual employee bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) and safety training to ensure that all associates are educated on all elements of the BBP standard. Includes the use of Standard Precautions for preventing the transmission of EVD. Standard Precautions are more stringent than Universal Precautions and are used regardless of suspected or confirmed infection status. Standard Precautions are an acceptable alternative to Universal Precautions because they incorporate all the fluids and materials identified by the OSHA BBP Standard as potentially infectious.
- Implementing methods of compliance that include engineering controls, work practice controls, and PPE.
- Appropriate use of hazard warning signs and labels to communicate and provide sufficient warning of potentially infectious materials.
The following pages in this course will review some of these elements in more detail.