Infection Control & First Aid Blog

Frequently Asked Questions: Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (Part 7)

[fa icon="calendar"] 5/8/17 11:00 AM / by Jill Tilton

The purpose of this blog post is to provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions related to the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for the standard's requirements. Please refer to the standard for the complete text.

Methods of Control

Hepatitis B Vaccination and Post-Exposure Evaluation and Follow-up Procedures

Q1. Who must be offered the hepatitis B vaccination?

A1. The hepatitis B vaccination series must be made available to all employees who have occupational exposure, except as provided. The employer does not have to make the hepatitis B vaccination available to employees who have previously received the vaccination series, who are already immune as their antibody tests reveal, or for whom receiving the vaccine is contraindicated for medical reasons.

Q2. When must the hepatitis B vaccination be offered to employees?

A2. The hepatitis B vaccination must be made available within 10 working days of initial assignment, after appropriate training has been completed. Thus, arranging for the administration of the first dose of the series must be done at a time which will enable this schedule to be met . In addition, see Question 6 for vaccination of employees designated to render first aid.

Q3. Can pre-screening be required for hepatitis B titer? Post-screening?

A3. The employer cannot require an employee to take a pre-screening or post-vaccination serological test. An employer may, however, decide to make pre-screening available at no cost to the employee.

All medical evaluations and procedures, including the hepatitis B vaccine and vaccination series, are to be provided according to the current recommendations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). According to the current guidelines, employees who have ongoing contact with patients or blood and are at ongoing risk for percutaneous injuries should be tested for anti-HBs one to two months after the completion of the three-dose vaccination series. Non-responders must receive a second three-dose series and be retested after the second series. Non-responders must be medically evaluated.

Q4. Can the employer make up its own declination form?

A4. If an employee declines the hepatitis B vaccination, the employer must ensure that the employee signs a hepatitis B vaccine declination. The declination's wording is found in Appendix A of the standard. A photocopy of the Appendix may be used as a declination form, or the words can be typed or written onto a separate document. An employer may use different words if they convey the same information. However, any additions to that language should be made for the sole purpose of improving employee comprehension. Forms must not add language that would discourage employee acceptance of the vaccine, add liability concerns or require the employee to provide confidential medical information.

Q5. Can employees refuse the vaccination?

A5. Employees have the right to refuse the hepatitis B vaccine and/or any post-exposure evaluation and follow-up. Note, however, that the employee needs to be properly informed of the benefits of the vaccination and post-exposure evaluation through training. The employee also has the right to decide to take the vaccination at a later date if he or she so chooses. The employer must make the vaccination available at that time.

Q6. Can the hepatitis B vaccination be made a condition of employment?

A6. OSHA does not have jurisdiction over this issue.

Q7. Is a routine booster dose of hepatitis B vaccine required?

A7. The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) does not recommend routine booster doses of hepatitis B vaccine, so they are not required at this time. However, if a routine booster dose of hepatitis B vaccine is recommended by the USPHS at a future date, such booster doses must be made available at no cost to those eligible employees with occupational exposure.

Q8. Whose responsibility is it to pay for the hepatitis B vaccine?

A8. The responsibility lies with the employer to make the hepatitis B vaccine and vaccination, including post-exposure evaluation and follow-up, available at no cost to the employees.

Q9. What information must the employer provide to the healthcare professional following an exposure incident?

A9. The healthcare professional must be provided with a copy of the standard as well as the following information:

  • A description of the employee's duties as they relate to the exposure incident;
  • Documentation of the route(s) and circumstances of the exposure;
  • The results of the source individual's blood testing, if available; and
  • All medical records relevant to the appropriate treatment of the employee, including vaccination status, which are the employer's responsibility to maintain.

Q10. What serological testing must be done on the source individual?

A10. The employer must identify and document the source individual, if known, unless the employer can establish that identification is not feasible or is prohibited by state or local law. The source individual's blood must be tested as soon as feasible, after consent is obtained, in order to determine HIV and HBV infectivity. The information on the source individual's HIV and HBV testing must be provided to the evaluating healthcare professional. Also, the results of the testing must be provided to the exposed employee. The exposed employee must be informed of applicable laws and regulations concerning disclosure of the identity and infectious status of the source individual.

Q11. What if consent cannot be obtained from the source individual?

A11. If consent cannot be obtained and is required by state law, the employer must document in writing that consent cannot be obtained. When the source individual's consent is not required by law, the source individual's blood, if available, shall be tested and the results documented.

Q12. When is the exposed employee's blood tested?

A12. After consent is obtained, the exposed employee's blood is collected and tested as soon as feasible for HIV and HBV serological status. If the employee consents to the follow-up evaluation after an exposure incident, but does not give consent for HIV serological testing, the blood sample must be preserved for 90 days. If, within 90 days of the exposure incident, the employee elects to have the baseline sample tested for HIV, testing must be done as soon as feasible.

Q13. What information does the healthcare professional provide to the employer following an exposure incident?

A13. The employer must obtain and provide to the employee a copy of the evaluating healthcare professional's written opinion within 15 days of completion of the evaluation. The healthcare professional's written opinion for hepatitis B is limited to whether hepatitis B vaccination is indicated and if the employee received the vaccination. The written opinion for post-exposure evaluation must include information that the employee has been informed of the results of the evaluation and told about any medical conditions resulting from exposure that may require further evaluation and treatment. All other findings or diagnoses must be kept confidential and not included in the written report.

Q14. What type of counseling is required following exposure incidents?

A14. The standard requires that post-exposure counseling be given to employees following an exposure incident. Counseling concerning infection status, including results and interpretation of all tests, will assist the employee in understanding the potential risk of infection and in making decisions regarding the protection of personal contacts. For example, counseling should include USPHS recommendations about the transmission and prevention of HIV. These recommendations include refraining from blood, semen, or organ donation; abstaining from sexual intercourse or using measures to prevent HIV transmission during sexual intercourse; and refraining from breast feeding infants during the follow-up period. Counseling based on the USPHS recommendations must also be provided for HBV and HCV and other bloodborne pathogens, as appropriate. In addition, counseling must be made available regardless of the employee's decision to accept serological testing.

Q15. What recordkeeping does OSHA require for exposure incidents?

A15. Any employer who is required to maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses under OSHA’s Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR Part 1904) is also required to establish and maintain a sharps injury log for the recording of percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps. Employers must also record all work-related needlestick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that are contaminated with another person's blood or other potentially infectious material (as defined by 29 CFR 1910.1030) on the OSHA 300 Log.  Employers may use the OSHA 300 Log to meet the requirements of the sharps injury log provided they enter the same information required for the sharps injury log on the OSHA 300 Log and maintain the records in a way that segregates sharps injuries from other types of work-related injuries and illnesses, or allows sharps injuries to be easily separated. Employers must enter sharps injury cases on the OSHA 300 Log and the sharps injury log without entering the employee’s name. [See the requirements for privacy cases in paragraphs 1904.29(b)(6) through 1904.29(b)(10)].

If an employee is splashed or exposed to blood or OPIM without being cut or punctured, the incident must be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log if it results in the diagnosis of a bloodborne illness or if it meets one or more of the recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.

If an employer is exempted from the OSHA recordkeeping rule, the employer does not have to maintain a sharps log.


Are you concerned that your facility does not have a kit designed for OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard? This kit is designed to help in OSHA Standard Compliance (1910.1030) and combines personal protection and clean-up items mandated by OSHA, CDC, and State Health Departments to aid in the clean-up, transportation, and disposal of potentially infectious blood or body fluid spills.

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The information contained is this document is not considered a substitute for any provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) or the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1030, Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens.


Topics: OSHA, Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

Jill Tilton

Written by Jill Tilton

As the Digital Marketing Strategist, Jill works on strengthening the Safetec website and brand. She optimizes the website to its peak potential and suggests different marketing techniques to bring in qualified leads to the sales team. She also works with online marketplaces such as Amazon, ESP, and ThomasNet to generate additional revenue. In her off time, Jill enjoys spending time with her family.

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