Occupational Safety and Health
Administration Regulations on
Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne
In 1970, the U.S. Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act
to protect workers from unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the workplace.
To oversee this effort, the law also created the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) within the U.S. Department of Labor. The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the responsibility for
developing and implementing job safety and health standards and regulations.
Its standards and regulations apply to all employers and employees. To promote
and ensure compliance with its standards, OSHA has the authority to conduct
unannounced workplace inspections. It also maintains a reporting and record-
keeping system to monitor job-related injuries and illnesses. Failure to comply
with OSHA standards may result in the assessment of civil or criminal penalties.
In December 1991, OSHA issued new regulations on occupational expo-
sure to bloodborne pathogens that are designed to minimize the transmission
of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and other
potentially infectious materials in the workplace. The regulations cover all
employees in physician offices, hospitals, medical laboratories, and other health
care facilities where workers could be “reasonably anticipated” as a result of
performing their job duties to come into contact with blood and other poten-
tially infectious materials. The regulations were revised, effective April 2001, to
comply with the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000.
*Data from Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Washington, DC: OSHA; 2012.
Available at: http://www.osha.gov/. Retrieved January 20, 2012.