Whether you’re an OSHA-approved trainer or a front-line supervisor, creating an effective bloodborne pathogens training program can feel like a Herculean task. You must also do it quickly — and with little to no budget. But don’t panic; you can create an effective training program with the right approach.
Even if your company is small and doesn’t have a standard operating procedure (SOP) manual, that doesn’t mean you can’t follow best practices for developing your bloodborne pathogens training program. These five tips will help you get started on creating a program that is both effective and efficient.
1. Educate your employees on the basics
You might think it’s obvious why you must protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens — but are your employees aware of the risks and why these precautions are necessary? While most employees will understand the basics of what makes blood a biohazard, some nuances will help them know how to protect themselves.
These nuances include:
- Bloodborne Pathogens – Bloodborne pathogens are diseases transmitted from one person to another through blood-to-blood contact.
- Respiratory Protection – Employees must wear a respirator when working with blood or other bodily fluids that could contain bloodborne pathogens. Respirators are designed to prevent the transmission of these diseases while allowing workers to remain productive by not requiring them to don full-facepiece respirators.
- Contamination – Bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted when contaminated blood or bodily fluids contact the skin, eyes, or mouth.
- Hepatitis B Vaccination – All medical personnel and non-medical employees who have reason to come into contact with blood or other bloodborne pathogens must be vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Post-exposure Evaluation and Follow-up – All employees must be trained to report a possible bloodborne pathogen exposure and what to do if they have been exposed.
2. Identify the most critical practices
While you want to cover all practices, certain ones will be more important than others. It’s helpful to look at your data and see which practices are most on the rise. If you have access to employee injury reports, you may also be able to see which practices are riskier than others.
From there, it’s about finding the best way to convey the importance of these procedures. For example, if you find that employees aren’t wearing gloves, you can focus on the fact that 90% of all infections are transmitted through hands.
You might even want to create a chart listing the top 10 best practices and their relative importance. If you have time, you can add additional best practices as they come up.
3. Make your program a game
Humor has been shown to make learning more accessible, more memorable, and less stressful. Use humor in your bloodborne pathogens training program to make your content more engaging. You can also do this by:
- Making the program interactive – Use props to help your employees better visualize your message.
- Adding visuals to your program – Flip charts, screens, and whiteboards can help you make complex concepts easier to understand.
- Incorporating other media formats – You may be able to add audio clips or videos to your program. It could be something as simple as adding sound effects or relevant music.
4. Ask your employees what matters most to them
You can also find out what matters most to your employees by having them fill out surveys or polls. You can ask what they are struggling with the most and what they would like to learn more about.
Find out what terms your employees are most confused about or what practices they feel aren’t significant enough to follow. This way, you can use your program to clear up misconceptions and ensure everyone knows how necessary these procedures are.
5. Mix in trainer-led activities and games
You don’t have to stick to PowerPoint presentations and read from a manual — you can incorporate more interactive activities and games. These activities can help make the program more memorable for employees and help them retain more information. For example, you can:
- Hold a mock OSHA-style inspection – Have different employees play the roles of the general contractor, safety manager, and health and safety representative. Have the SCHOs review their policies and procedures and conduct a mock inspection. You can even create points the inspector can deduct to make it a more engaging experience.
- Create a quiz or trivia game – Hold a trivia game on bloodborne pathogens, such as a jeopardy-style game or even a “Jeopardy for the Workplace.” You can even create a quiz that employees can take online or on their phones.
Bonus: Don’t forget to measure effectiveness!
Finally, you should also measure effectiveness. That means creating a baseline for your program and then tracking how it changes over time. You can do this by asking employees for their feedback and creating a self-assessment quiz for them to take. You can also use surveys to gauge employee satisfaction with the program and make adjustments as necessary.
Bloodborne pathogens training can be daunting, but it’s necessary to protect your employees and comply with OSHA regulations. Using these best practices will help you create an effective and efficient program that will protect your company and its employees.
Remember that while training is essential, it can’t be the only thing you do to protect your employees. You also need to ensure they have the appropriate equipment and that the work environment is clean and safe.