SAFE Bloodborne Pathogen Training

The SAFE Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course is a multi-module approach to learning the fundamentals necessary to keep you and others safe from exposure to hazardous viruses, bacteria, and other biological organisms.

The SAFE Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course is based on the SAFE strategy. The SAFE strategy is discussed in further detail and then in four individual modules that address the four elements of the SAFE program:

The six modules in the course cover:

Each module includes a comprehensive quiz on the materials presented. When you successfully complete the course and quizzes, you will be in an educated, informed position of understanding the dangers of bloodborne pathogens and how to protect against these hazards effectively.

Module One: Course Overview

The SAFE Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course is designed to provide you with an essential background in understanding the dangers associated with dangerous bloodborne germs and how to strategically protect against them. There are four primary components of the SAFE Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course:

Safeguard: The key to preventing illness from exposure to bloodborne pathogens is implementing appropriate safeguards on a proactive basis.

Act: When exposed to blood, bodily fluids, or other biomatter, you need to take act and take specific steps to protect your health and wellbeing.

Facilitate: When blood, bodily fluids, or other bodily fluids are present, a coordinated and comprehensive cleanup and sanitization plan needs to be facilitated.

Express: In the aftermath of a situation involving blood, bodily fluids, or other biomatter, key reporting steps need to be taken to express information about the incident to appropriate individuals and authorities.

Before diving into the four primary elements of this training course, we explore the essential facts and factors you must understand when it comes to the dangers of bloodborne pathogens.

Who Needs to be Trained Properly to Come in Contact with Blood?

The reality is that a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life need to have basic training to safely address blood spills or surfaces and items contaminated with blood. Examples of people and establishments in positions to understand what to do when they come into contact with blood include:

Bear in mind that this is far from a comprehensive list of people who ideally should receive training in regard to coming into contact with blood and who need an essential understanding of bloodborne pathogens.

The Legalities of Blood Spills and Blood Cleanup

As with so many things in life in the 20th century, there are some legal considerations to bear in mind when it comes to blood spills and blood cleanup. Any individual who bears at least some responsibility for blood spill cleanup needs to have a basic understanding of the legalities of blood spills and blood cleanup.

When a blood spill occurs in a public setting like a store or office, a business has the legal obligation to safely cleanup and sanitize the contaminated area in a reasonably timely manner. The failure to accomplish a blood cleanup and sanitization in a reasonably timely manner opens up a business to claim for negligence should anyone become infected with a harmful pathogen as a result of exposure to the blood at issue (or another bodily fluid or biomatter).

Importance of Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course

Whether in your job or merely through your day to day live, you may come into contact with blood or other blood-containing matter or materials. The SAFE Bloodborne Pathogens Training Course provides you the tools you need to stay safe and keep others safe in the presence of another’s blood, bodily fluids, or other biological matter.

Course Overview Quiz

Module Two: Understanding Bloodborne Pathogens

In order to properly protect yourself – and others – from the dangers presented by bloodborne pathogens, you need to understand the “what and why” of these biological substances. In this module, we will discuss important facts and factors about bloodborne pathogens.

Basics of Bloodborne Pathogens

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has developed a succinct definition of bloodborne pathogens:

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans.

There are three bloodborne pathogens that are most common:

HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C oftentimes are referred to as the “big three” of bloodborne pathogens. With that said, they are not the only three. There are other dangerous bloodborne pathogens that cause illness in humans, that while not commonly spread in the United States at this time, do bear mentioning. These are:

Symptoms and Effects of the Most Common Bloodborne Pathogens

In order to fully appreciate how dangerous exposure to bloodborne pathogens can be, an examination of the symptoms and effects of these microorganisms is crucial. The symptoms and effects of each biological pathogen is discussed in turn.


HIV is the abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is what technically is known as a retrovirus, according to the CDC. If a person is infected with HIV, the virus can progress and result in a diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. Absent medical intervention and treatment, the life expectancy of an individual infected with HIV is approximately nine to 11 years. Having said that, thanks to advancements in medications and treatment, provided medical intervention occurs after infection, HIV is manageable and a person can live a “normal” life.

The early symptoms of an HIV infection are:

If left untreated, HIV can damage an infected person’s immune system. If an HIV infection progresses to AIDS, the primary symptoms are:

According to the CDC, a diagnosis of AIDS is made when a person’s CD4 T cell count falls below 200 or if a person experiences what technically is known as an “AIDS-defining complication” like a serious infection or certain types of cancer. CD4 T cell are white blood cells that play a major role in fighting infection.

A person with an HIV infection that progresses to AIDS does not die from the virus or AIDS. Rather, AIDS renders a person vulnerable to opportunist infections and diseases that include:

Hepatitis B

Another of the three most common bloodborne pathogens, there is a bit of a bright note associated with hepatitis B. In most cases, a hepatitis B infection resolved on its own within about six months.

The early symptoms of a hepatitis B infection include:

There are cases in which an individual infected with the hepatitis B virus develops a chronic condition. If a person develops a chronic hepatitis B infection, that individual runs the risk of developing:

The development of these conditions as the result of a hepatitis B infection is not common. Nonetheless, if one or another of these conditions do occur, the potential

exists for the disease to become fatal.

Hepatitis B is preventable. There is a vaccine available that protects a person against contracting a hepatitis B infection. If a person is exposed to potentially contaminated blood, a common recommendation is to obtain a hepatitis B vaccination is an individual previously had not been vaccinated.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is the third of the “big three” bloodborne pathogens. At this juncture in time, approximately 4 million people in the United States have the infection.

Most people infected with hepatitis C have no idea they have the virus. There are few symptoms of the disease. Many individuals don’t recognize that they have one or another of these symptoms of hepatitis B. The primary symptoms of hepatitis C are:

Unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. 85 percent of people who contract this virus end up with chronic hepatitis C. When chronic hepatitis C develops, an individual runs the risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer.

How Bloodborne Pathogens Enter the Body

As is discussed numerous times throughout this training course, contact with blood, bodily fluids, and other biomatter can result in bloodborne pathogens entering the body. With that once again noted, there are some more common ways in which this does occur:

Exposure and Development of Illness

Medically speaking, it technically is possible to not become ill if you are exposed to a bloodborne pathogen (which is discussed more fully in a moment). Having said that, you absolutely cannot “roll the dice” and hope nothing will happen. When you come upon blood, bodily fluids, or other biomatter, you must presume it is contaminated.

There are three points to keep in mind when it comes to becoming ill from exposure to bloodborne pathogens:

Comprehensive Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan

Taking a proactive stance against exposure to bloodborne pathogens necessitates comprehensive planning. The components of a bloodborne pathogen preventative exposure plan needs to include the following elements:

Understanding Bloodborne Pathogens Quiz

Module Three: Safeguard

Completely avoiding exposure to blood spills and blood contamination is the surest way to keep from becoming ill from bloodborne pathogens. The reality is that for many, many people, completely avoiding exposure to or contact with blood spills as well as surfaces or objects contaminated with blood is impossible.

The next best way to protect yourself and others from exposure to bloodborne pathogens is to employ appropriate safeguards when exposure to or contact with blood occurs. You need to follow these safeguard protocols if you are called upon to clean up a blood spill or address blood contamination or a surface or object.

The individual topics covered in the Safeguard Module are:

Universal Blood Precautions

Universal blood precautions came into being during the earlier days of the AIDS pandemic. Universal blood precautions were formulated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and introduced to the medical community and public-at-large between 1985 through 1988.

Universal blood precautions are defined as the comprehensive practice of avoiding contact with blood and other bodily fluids of another person. An overarching supposition of universal blood precautions is that all blood and other bodily fluids are to be treated as if contaminated by harmful pathogens.

Universal blood precautions call for the use of what are known as “nonporous articles” to provide a barrier against bloodborne pathogens. The so-called nonporous articles used in protecting against bloodborne pathogens are broadly known as “personal protective equipment.” Personal protective equipment needed to protect against bloodborne pathogens are discussed fully in an upcoming section in this Module.

The prime elements of nonporous articles – personal protective equipment – used to provide a barrier against bloodborne pathogens include:

Beyond Blood – Other Blood-Containing Matter

Blood is the most common type of bodily fluid or biomatter you are likely to encounter. With that said, there are other types of bodily fluids and biomatter that you might have to address. These are different biological substances that can contain blood or that otherwise may be infected with dangerous pathogens. These substances include:

Scene Safety

If you face a situation in which blood (or another bodily fluid) is present in the open, you not only need to take appropriate steps to protect yourself from exposure, but you need to initiate scene safety protocols as well. What this means is that you need to prevent others from coming into contact with the spilled blood. You need to come up with a practical, easily implemented way to cordon off the area contaminated with blood to protect others.

Personal Protective Equipment

If you are called upon to facilitate blood cleanup or if you are to provide assistance to an individual who has been injured, you need to don personal protective equipment or PPE whenever possible. In fact, there is no excuse not to wear appropriate PPE when cleaning up a blood spill. If you are called upon to tend to the emergency needs of an injured persons, you do need to use PPE if at all possible. At a minimum, you should wear appropriate nitrile gloves and a facemask in an emergency situation.

The full spectrum of personal protective equipment includes these important items:

In business or other public setting, these PPE items ideally are readily available in the event of an emergency situation involving blood spills or the presence of other bodily fluids or biomatter. These PPE items should be obtained before blood cleanup commences if they are not already on-hand at the scene.

Bloodborne Pathogens and Oral Exposure

Bloodborne pathogens can enter your body in a number of different ways. These include entering your body through your mouth. Oral exposure is a frequently occurring way in which bloodborne pathogens get into a person’s system. This happens when blood splashes into a person’s face. It also occurs when a person inadvertently touches their lips or surrounding face area with contaminated gloves. There are also situations in which a person has a minute amount of blood on his or her hand and unconsciously touches his or her face. This possibility underscores the need for thorough handwashing, which is discussed next.


When it comes to protecting against disease associated with bloodborne pathogens, one of the most important steps you must take is proper handwashing. In early 2020, a very sharp focus was put on proper handwashing as an outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic. The stark reality is that the handwashing protocols announced during the coronavirus pandemic were generally what we all should have been following all along. Moreover, these handwashing directives are what is needed when it comes to protecting against disease carried by bloodborne pathogens.

Even if you’ve been clad in appropriate gloves when you were in contact with blood or other bodily fluids (like during a cleanup process), you still must undertake this thorough handwashing process to best protect yourself from infection by some type of bloodborne pathogen. If you wash you hands correctly, you significantly reduce your chance of becoming ill. You also greatly reduce the prospect of spreading germs (pathogens) to other people.

The first step in the handwashing process is to turn on the faucet, using a paper towel if at all possible. You then need to thoroughly wet your hands with warm water. Warm water is preferred because it is more apt to allow for a decent foaming of soap.

The next step is to apply soap and work up a decent lather for at least 20 seconds. You then need to thoroughly rinse your hands.

While washing your hands, you need to avoid splashing. You need to do your best to keep water in the sink.

Once the washing process is completed, you then dry your hands with a paper towel or a high-velocity dryer. You should use a paper towel to turn off a faucet.

Understanding and Using Cautionary Symbols

You need to make certain that any containers that will hold or transport blood or items contaminated with blood need to have proper warning labels on them. This requires you to have a basic understanding of the cautionary symbols associated with bloodborne hazards and biohazards. The nearly universal international biohazard symbol (used everywhere in the United States) is one that has a bright orange or orange-red background.

Biohazard Disposal Plan

As part safely addressing blood, bodily fluids, and other biomatter, you need to have an appropriate biohazard disposal plan in place. A suitable biohazard disposal plan includes a number of primary elements:

Latex Allergies

Reference has been made to the use of nitrile gloves. There are a number of reasons why this type of gloves is recommended when dealing with blood and possible exposure to blood pathogens.

First, nitrile gloves are stronger and more durable than their latex counterparts. Second, latex allergies are relatively common. If you or an injured person have a latex allergy, you worsen an already challenging situation by wearing latex gloves. Nitrile gloves as a solid alternative.

Hepatitis B Vaccination

One of the more commonplace bloodborne pathogens is the hepatitis B virus. If you’ve been exposed to blood in the absence of appropriate personal protective equipment, or if a mishap occurred when blood splashed into your face, you should obtain a hepatitis B vaccination. Businesses, schools, churches, and other organizations and entities should make providing access to hepatitis B vaccinations free of charge a matter of policy when a person may have been exposed to blood.

Safeguard Quiz

Module Four: Act

When a situation arises in which blood of other bodily fluids are present, the manner in which you act and respond determines the ultimate impact of your exposure. The manner in which you act and respond to blood and other bodily fluids will also affect the health and wellbeing of other people as well.

There are three primary topics addressed in this module:

Addressing an Exposure to Blood

An important reality to always bear in mind is that despite understanding the ins and outs of universal precautions (as we learned about previously), you can inadvertently become directly exposed to blood or other bodily fluids. As a consequence, you must understand how to address an exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. This includes understanding the proper response to blood or other bodily fluids that make contact with your:

Action Steps for Addressing an Exposure to Blood

There are some primary action steps that you need to follow if you’ve been exposed to blood. These are:

Properly Removing Protective Gloves

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed a seven-step process for safely removing protective gloves in a situation involving blood or some other type of biohazard.

  1. Grasp the outside of one glove by taking ahold of the wrist. Do not touch your bare skin.
  2. Peel the glove away from your body.
  3. Pull the glove inside out in that process.
  4. Hold the removed glove in your gloved hand. Peel the second glove off by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
  5. Turn the second glove inside out as you peal it away from your body. The first glove removed ends up inside the second glove.
  6. Dispose of the gloves safely, using a biohazardous waste container if available. If such a container is not at hand, double bag the gloves in durable plastic bags.
  7. Thoroughly wash your after the gloves are removed. Lather your hands with soap and warm water. Wash for at least 20 seconds.

Dealing with Sharps

In some cases when dealing with blood, there may also be an issue with sharps. Sharps can include needles and knives which may be contaminated by blood.

Sharps need to be collected with care. You need to be sure to wear appropriate personal protective equipment when picking up sharps.

Sharps need to be place into a proper biohazard waste container designed for this purpose. Such a container needs to be appropriately marked with suitable biohazard warning information.

If no such container is available, you can use a thick plastic container like a laundry detergent bottle.

Emergency Sharps Information

Unfortunately, with alarming regularity, people are stuck with needles contaminated with blood. This happens when a person undertakes cleaning up a blood spill and doesn’t immediately notice a needle. It also happens when a contaminated needle is tossed indiscriminately somewhere and an unsuspecting person comes into contact with it.

Getting pricked by a blood contaminated needle can have serious consequences. This type of situation underscores the fact that only a very small – minute – amount of blood can contain dangerous pathogens like HIV, hepatitis, MRSA, and other viruses and bacteria capable of causing serious diseases and illnesses.

If you experience a needlestick or a cut some other type of contaminated sharp, you must act without any delay. The process consists of only three simple steps. Unfortunately, with alarming and detrimental regularity, a person pricked or stuck by a blood contaminated needle or other sharp never gets past step one. The steps you immediately must take after being stuck or pricked by a needle or other type of sharp are:

  1. Wash needlesticks, pricks, and cuts immediately with soap and water. Wash thoroughly. You certainly can apply the 20-second rule we hear so much about in this day and age. However, washing thoroughly with soap and water for a longer period of time is advisable. You can apply a topical disinfectant once you’ve completed the thorough handwashing.
  2. Report the incident to a manager or supervisor, if the incident occurred in a work setting. If it happens in some other setting like a store or office you are visiting, report the incident to a person with authority at the location.
  3. Immediately seek medical attention. There are some types of blood exposures that may allow for a bit of flexibility when it comes to the need for medical attention Being pricked or stuck by a contaminated needle or other type or sharp is not one of them.

Act Quiz

Module Five: Facilitate

Depending on the situation, you may find yourself in a position of having to remediate or cleanup and sanitize an area contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other biomatter. This can include the cleaning and sanitization of not only surfaces of different types but objects that have been contaminated as well. Simply put, you may be the person called upon to facilitate blood cleanup and associated sanitization.

This course is not designed to provide specific cleaning and sanitization strategies for you if you are in a situation where you are responsible for this type of biohazard remediation. The purpose of this module is to sharpen the focus on what you need to do to keep yourself and others safe during this type of biohazard remediation process.

Some matters discussed in this section have been addressed or at least alluded to in other modules. With that said, the real risks that exist when it comes to blood cleanup and disinfection warrants something of a repeating of certain points.

Moreover, throughout this training course, the emphasis really has been on keeping yourself safe when it comes to encounters with blood, bodily fluids, and other biomatter. In this module, we more sharply shift focus to not only keeping yourself safe during a blood cleanup and sanitization process but keeping others safe and healthy as well.

In this module, we cover:

Cordon Off Contaminated Area

When you’re responsible for blood cleanup and associated sanitization, you have a companion responsible – and an overriding one at that – to keep others safe during the process. At the heart of keeping others safe before and during blood cleanup and sanitization is to effectively cordon off the contaminated area.

You cannot merely make an announcement telling people to “stay out of the conference room” or something to that effect. You need to take a more affirmative approach to ensuring that others do not come into contact with the biohazardous scene.

In some situations, this process can be as simple as closing and locking a door, together with the placement of a suitable sign on the door that advises to stay out and makes note of the hazard. In other situations, depending on the nature of the contamination, cordoning off a structure or a more significant section of it may be necessary.

In some cases, you do not commence the process to cordon of a contaminated are until you’ve donned appropriate personal protective equipment. Quite like the directive on an airliner about putting your face mask on first before helping others, you must make sure your person is safe from dangerous bloodborne pathogens before you take the primary element of cleanup of cordoning off the contaminated area. This is the admonition if you need to enter into the contaminated zone in order to close it off from others.

Personal Protective Equipment or PPE for Blood Cleanup

Prior to 2020, most people were not particularly familiar with the term personal protective equipment or PPE. The COVID-19 pandemic changed that state of affairs.

Personal protective equipment or PPE has been discussed in prior modules. With that said, understanding proper PPE and its use is one of the most important elements of this training course that you must understand.

When faced with the prospect of blood cleanup and sanitization, at a minimum you must have this PPE:

If available, you may want to go a step further and supplement your essential PPE with three additional items:

PPE should not be re-used. Disposal items should be appropriately disposed of after use. Reusable items should be appropriately washed after use. In other words, if cleaning and sanitizing an area contaminated with blood takes more than one time period, you need fresh PPE for further work at the site.

Comprehensive Cleaning and Sanitization

As mentioned earlier in this module, the purpose of this training course is to educate you on how to protect yourself and others from bloodborne pathogens. For this reason, a detailed expose of the ins and outs of adequately cleaning a contaminated area and objects in it is generally beyond the scope of this training.

Suffice to say that part of ensuring that you ensure safety and the wellbeing of yourself and others following blood contamination is the proper remediation of the scene of the contamination. There are three primary components to blood remediation, two of which are needed in every case, on in some:

Facilitate Quiz

Module Six: Express

Following a situation involving exposure to blood, there may be certain types of advising or reporting requirements. The necessity of expressing to other individuals or a governmental entity exposure to blood arises under a number of different circumstances.

When it comes to advising someone else of exposure to blood, the need for such expression of what occurred is most commonly associated with a workplace or another public environment. With that noted, there are a number of more commonplace reporting or advisement issues associated with blood exposure:

Express Quiz

Are you ready to take the exam?

The exam has a total of 61 questions, you should get atleast 43 points to pass the exam.

Yes! I am ready!