If employees have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material, they are covered by OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard at 1910.1030. For example, employees who are designated by the employer to provide first aid for injured coworkers would be covered. However, workers could be covered even if they have not been specifically designated to provide first aid.
Simply providing first aid training to workers does not automatically mean those workers are covered by the bloodborne standard. For example, an employer might train workers if required under 1910.151, Medical services and first aid. That rule may require having someone “adequately trained to render first aid” but OSHA cannot require those people to actually respond and provide help (the employer must designate them). Individuals trained in first aid, but not designated as responders, are not covered by the bloodborne pathogens rule.
Other employees can be covered, however. An OSHA compliance directive says that an employee who regularly provides first aid to coworkers could be deemed to have occupational exposure, even if the company never designated that employee as a responder.
Specifically, OSHA CPL 02-02-069 includes the following: “An employee who routinely provides first aid to fellow employees with the knowledge of the employer may also fall, de facto, under this designation even if the employer has not officially designated this employee as a first aid provider.”
For example, suppose an employee works in the evenings as a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT). Other workers know this, so they routinely go to that employee when injured. If the supervisor knows that the EMT employee regularly provides first aid to coworkers, that employee could be a de facto designated responder under the bloodborne pathogens rule.
Similarly, if the first aid supplies are stored in the safety manager’s office, and the safety manager regularly provides assistance to injured employees who come for those supplies, the safety manager could very well be considered a de facto first aid responder.
The bloodborne rule does not cover good Samaritans who voluntarily assist a coworker, if they are not designated or expected to assist coworkers. Based on the compliance directive, however, a good Samaritan who regularly responds to injured coworkers with the knowledge of the employer might be deemed a de facto designated responder.
The OSHA regulations provide the basics, but OSHA has a lot of guidance in the form of interpretations and compliance directives to explain how the agency will enforce the regulations. Our compliance experts check for new guidance on a daily basis. If you have any questions, send them in through the Expert Help feature and you’ll have a researched response within one business day.