The American Red Cross now offers courses for tattoo artists, one aptly named “Bloodborne Pathogens Training for Tattoo Artists.” This is an online course, and is a requirement for OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standards.
Obviously, tattoos involve a lot of bloodplay; the needle goes in, blood sprays out. Not in a horror movie sort of way, but exposure to any of the red stuff warrants extra precautions for the tattoo artist, the tattoo recepient, and the next client. It should be fairly common knowledge that the hallmark of a safe tattoo artist includes brand new needles, sterile nitrile gloves, and the aroma of heavy duty cleaners. So is a certified course by American Red Cross necessary?
Yes and no. A tattoo artist should be fully aware of the presence and spread of bloodborne pathogens, but it is not a requirement. In the southern part of the state of Nevada, all a tattoo artist needs is a Tattoo Operator Health Card provided by the Southern Nevada Health District. This is obtained by filling out a form with basic information (name, address, age, etc), “written proof from a previous employer that the applicant has a minimum of six (6) months experience or training as a tattoo operator,” vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, and a nominal fee.
Digging a little further, according to the SNHD section 6.2.1, tattoo artists need only comply to OSHA’s 29 CFR Part 1910.1030 statute, which requires: an exposure plan, use of safe needles and sharps, use of personal protective equipment, hepatitis B vaccine, medical follow-up, use of labels for contaminated waste, and proper containment of contaminated waste.
Pretty vague, and it does not state that the bloodborne pathogens training is required. If it is not required, awareness and access to courses is probably not readily available. If it was a requirement, what extra knowledge would the tattoo artist gain?
Well, the American Red Cross course is fairly in depth, teaching artists “how bloodborne pathogens are spread, how to avoid exposure and what to do if exposed to infectious material.” Most likely information that can be easily googled if your artist really cares that much, but there is a nifty eBloodborne Pathogens Training Certification that’s valid for one year at the end of the course.
In a perfect world, it would be great if your artist had a wall full of certifications and awards, as well as being a fully trained medical doctor and pathologist. Since the current industry standard has not deemed this particular training to be a requirement, one would assume that means the current rules in place are adequate enough to avoid spreading disease or infection while trying to finish up your Hello Kitty sleeve.