Bloodborne Pathogens - University of Houston
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Bloodborne Pathogens

Personnel at the University of Houston must be provided with a safe work environment. Many different staff, faculty, and student positions work with or around blood or other potentially infectious material. Work with and around these substances introduces additional hazards. In order to combat these hazards, EHS administers the Bloodborne Pathogens Program. 

What are Bloodborne Pathogens (BBPs)? 

Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood; these and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) can cause disease. Examples include hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

OPIM includes all of the following:

  • Human cells, tissue or organ cultures
  • Human cell culture supernatant
  • Any solutions containing HIV, HBV, HCV or other BBPs
  • Any bodily fluid visibly contaminated with blood or OPIM
  • Cerebrospinal, pericardial, synovial, pleural and peritoneal fluids
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Amniotic fluid
  • Semen
  • Blood, organs, or tissues from animals infected with HIV, HCV, HBV or other BBPs
  • Saliva during dental procedures
  • Any fluid where it is difficult to identify the presence or absence of blood

Urine, feces, vomit, sweat, tears and saliva are not considered to be a risk for BBP transmission unless there is visible blood in them.

Individual Employee and Student Responsibilities

All UH employees and Students with a reasonably anticipated exposure to human blood, tissues, cell lines and other pathogenic agents that are present in human blood and OPIM are required to comply with the Bloodborne Pathogens Program.

Supervisors and Principal Investigator Responsibilities

Principal investigators (PIs) and supervisors are responsible for assessing activities in the workplace to determine if employees have a potential for exposure.

PIs and supervisors must develop a site-specific training plan as a supplement to the UH’s core BBP Exposure Control Plan in the UH Biosafety Manual. The site-specific plan identifies who is covered by the plan, personal protective equipment (PPE) for each task, decontamination procedures and first aid/exposure response procedures.

PIs and supervisors must offer the hepatitis B vaccine to employees within 10 days after they start a job with a potential for exposure to human blood or OPIM. The vaccine is provided at no cost to the employee. Employees must submit the Hepatitis B Vaccine Form provided at the end of the BBP Training to Envimental Health and Safety. The form is submitted electronically from the training module.

PIs and supervisors must ensure that employees receive initial and annual BBP training. Additionally, PIs and supervisors must provide training to employees on their site-specific BBP Exposure Control Plan.

What you can do to stay safe

  • Stay current on BBP training
  • Follow your site-specific BBP Exposure Control Plan
  • Learn more about the hepatitis B vaccine
  • Practice sharps safety, and follow universal precautions

What can I do if I am exposed to BBPs?

If an exposure to a bloodborne pathogen occurs, seek medical attention immediately. Additional procedures are detailed in your site-specific Exposure Control Plan but generally involve notifying your immediate supervisor, Risk Management, and EHS.