Environmental, Health and Safety Services

BLoodborne Pathogens (BBP)


What is considered a bloodborne pathogen?

"Bloodborne pathogen" is a phrase applied to a variety of bacteria and intracellular parasites that can infect humans via the blood stream and cause disease. Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are the BBP of greatest concern, but there are a number of other significant pathogens (and potentially, currently unknown pathogens) that can be transmitted from exposure to human blood, some of which are involved in research on this campus.

BBP Exposures

Which occupations have a risk of BBP exposure at Virginia Tech?

  • First responders, first aid providers
  • Health services personnel
  • Athletic trainers and sports support staff
  • Spill response/ housekeeping/ custodial personnel
  • Dining services personnel
  • Facilities/ utilities repair and maintenance personnel
  • Campus police and security officers
  • Waste management personnel
  • Lab workers who handle certain biohazardous materials

What puts workers at risk for BBP exposure?

  • If your work situation could place you into contact, or potential contact with one or more of the biohazardous materials listed below, you are considered at risk for BBP exposure:
    • Human blood/ blood products/ blood components
    • Human or NHP tissue cell cultures (primary or established lines)
    • Unfixed tissue or organs from humans, living or dead
    • Other potentially infectious materials of human origin: sexual fluids, cerebrospinal fluid, organ fluids, joint fluids, amniotic fluid, saliva (from dental procedures), or any body fluid containing visible blood
    • HIV or HBV-containing cell or tissue cultures, culture medium or other solutions
    • Blood, organs, other tissues or cell lines from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV
  • Practices that increase your exposure risk include:
    • Use of needles with no safety devices
    • Using needles preferentially over alternative, safer means
    • Careless handling and disposal of sharps (e.g., needles, broken glass, scalpels, blades, etc.)
    • Failing to use splash guards, face shields, safety glasses, disposable gloves or lab coats in situations that require them for protection
    • Failing to use containment equipment
    • Failing to wash hands
    • Failing to properly decontaminate surfaces and lab equipment
    • Failing to properly decontaminate and dispose of hazardous waste
    • Failing to follow Universal Precautions

What constitutes an exposure to BBP?

  • When contact occurs between blood, tissue or other materials of human origin that are potentially infectious AND
    1. an injury site on your body (such as a needlestick),
    2. your mucous membranes (eyes, nasal passages, mouth), or
    3. a non-intact skin surface (such as exposed skin that is chapped, abraded, etc.),
  • This is considered an exposure.

What should I do in the event of a BBP exposure?

  • Remove PPE and provide immediate care to the exposed site by washing wounds and skin with soap and water for 15 minutes, or flush eyes/ mucous membranes with fresh water for 15 minutes.
  • Call 911 if serious injury has occurred; administer first aid as needed.
  • Inform your direct supervisor about the incident immediately, even if it is only a potential exposure.
  • Visit a medical provider or an Emergency Department for evaluation within 1-2 hours of the incident. Inform the medical provider about the specific material to which you have been (or may have been) exposed.
  • Complete the Employers Accident Report.
  • Contact EHS at 231-3600 during regular business hours; call 911 after hours.
  • Complete Exposure Incident Report Form and return it to EHS.
  • Receive instructions regarding the Occupational Health physician's recommended testing and treatment.

OSHA BBP Standard

What is the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard?

  • OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1919.1030 is a federal law prescribing certain prevention and response measures that employers must provide to protect at-risk workers from potential exposures to BBP.
  • The Standard is designed primarily for the health care industry, but also must be applied to other occupations in which workers are at risk of exposure to human blood and other potentially infectious materials.
  • A key prevention measure required by OSHA is BBP training for at-risk workers.

How does the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard apply to lab workers?

  • If you can reasonably anticipate contact or being at risk of contact with human blood or other potentially infectious materials (including human cell lines/cultures) as a result of performing your research laboratory duties, the BBP Standard applies to you, and requires you to take BBP training.


How do lab workers receive BBP training at Virginia Tech?

  • EHS provides online biosafety + BBP training for VT lab workers, and maintains a training database.
  • This online training module is called "Biosafety for Research Labs." The module 1) replaces all formerly required CITI biosafety training and 2) includes BBP training, for those who need it, that is specific to the needs of lab workers/ researchers. The training module is not applicable to workers in other at-risk occupations.
  • To register for the training:
    • Go to www.ehss.vt.edu.
    • Click on 'Training' in the left gray bar.
    • Click on 'Class Schedule and Registration.'
    • Click on 'Biological Safety' in the topics list. You will find 'Biosafety for Research Labs' (BSRL) listed there, as well as under the topic 'Bloodborne Pathogens.' Click on the 'Register' button, which will require your two-factor authentication.
    • At the bottom of the Training Class Registration Form, click on the SUBMIT button.
      • Next, you will see a page of the form that has a question: "Does your work involve any of the following human or non-human primate materials?" (followed by a short list of materials)
      • Answering NO allows lab workers who do not need BBP training to launch a version of the module that includes biosafety training only.
      • Be sure you answer the question correctly (YES) if you need BBP training, then click on the SUBMIT button.
      • When you are ready, click on LAUNCH to begin the training.

How do workers in all of the other at-risk occupations receive BBP training at Virginia Tech?

  • EHS provides classroom training for these VT workers, and maintains a training database.
  • Standing classes are provided twice a month and are held at the Health and Safety Building, 675 Research Center Drive. The classroom is on the ground floor.
  • Certain departments arrange annual classes at specific locations for groups of their workers. In some instances, supervisors take responsibility for registering the workers under their supervision. Such classes do not appear in the EHS list of available classes.
  • If you will be attending an arranged class, check with your supervisor to see if you need to register yourself for it.
  • Arranged classes for groups can be scheduled by contacting Sarah Owen (sowen@vt.edu ), 540-231-4034.
  • To register for a BBP training classroom session:
    • Go to www.ehss.vt.edu.
    • Click on 'Training' in the left gray bar.
    • Click on 'Class Schedules and Registration.'
    • Click on 'Bloodborne Pathogens' in the topics list.
    • Look over the listed dates and times of the classroom sessions for 'Bloodborne Pathogens', and choose the one that suits you best. Click on 'Register,' which will require your two-factor authentication.
    • At the bottom of the Training Class Registration Form, click on the SUBMIT button.

How often does everybody (in all at-risk occupations) have to take BBP training?

  • OSHA requires that BBP training be taken initially (when you first start your job) and then once a year thereafter , regardless of the trainee's prior training record or education.
  • OSHA's rationale: Annual refresher training gives the employer an opportunity to present new and emerging topics, and to review key information that may be partially or fully forgotten over time.

Further Information and Guidance:

OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 1910.1030