What Constitutes a Biohazard – The Definitive Guide


Biohazard — You’ve heard the term, you’ve seen the symbol, but do you know what actually constitutes a biohazard? Do you have an understanding of what materials and substances are considered to be biohazards and what measures you can take to prevent the spread of infection? A biological hazard (biohazard) is any organism that constitutes a hazard to other living things, especially humans.

Common Types of Biohazards

Potential biohazards are commonly found in hospitals and health care settings in the form of blood, body fluids, used syringes, glass culture slides, and other medical waste. These substances, among others, can carry bloodborne pathogens and spread disease from person to person.

What constitutes a bloodborne pathogen?

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. Some common bloodborne pathogens include Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

What can be done to control bloodborne pathogen exposure?

There are several protocols that health care workers and laboratorians should follow when handling potentially infectious materials (PIM). According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “In order to reduce the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, an employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures.”

Other precautionary measures include:

  • Standardized use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Bloodborne pathogen and PPE training
  • Hepatitis B vaccinations for employees who have, or will likely have, bloodborne pathogen exposure
  • Established engineering controls and the use of safer medical devices

Non-Occupational Biohazards

It is important to mention that biohazards are not only found in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical research labs. The blood that is found at the site of a violent crime or accident, the body fluid that is left after an unattended death — these are all biohazards that should be handled with the same care and attention as those found in a lab or hospital.

However, not everyone has access to the PPE needed for biohazard cleanup, not everyone has had bloodborne pathogen training, and not everyone has a clear understanding of how risky biohazard cleanup can be.

For anyone facing crime scene or trauma cleanup, Aftermath is equipped with the required knowledge and equipment to get the job done right the first time. An industry leader in bioremediation since 1996, Aftermath provides professional and compassionate services to families who are dealing with the death of a friend or loved one due to suicide, homicide, or serious accident. Call us anytime for more information.