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What to Know About Bloodborne Pathogens in the Workplace.

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Learn and follow universal precautions to prevent disease caused by BBP in your workplace.

In the workplace, bloodborne pathogens (BBP) may be transmitted when blood or other infectious body fluids come in contact with mucous membranes (your eyes, nose, or mouth); non-intact skin (due to cuts, abrasions, burns, rashes, paper cuts); or by handling or touching contaminated materials or surfaces. 

Bloodborne pathogens are also transmitted by "injection" under the skin via a contaminated sharp object puncturing or cutting the skin causing a wound.

Individuals who are infected with Hepatitis B (HBV) or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may not show symptoms and many not even know they are infectious.  For this reason, all human blood and body fluids should be considered as if infectious, and all precautions should be taken to avoid contact in the event of an accident or incident.  This is just a simple rule of taking universal precautions. 

Educate your employees about certain diseases because with knowledge comes the opportunity to protect each employee.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) versus Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):

  • Hepatitis B Virus is more persistant than HIV and is able to survive for at least one week in dried blood on environmental surfaces.  However, HIV will not survive for more than a few minutes when exposed to room temperature air, and will usually die within seconds.
  • A teaspoon of infected blood may contain over one billion HBV particles, while a teaspoon of infected HIV blood contains only about 15 HIV particles.
  • Hepatitis B Virus usually has mild symptoms which makes diagnosis difficult.  HIV infections usually are not diagnosed for years and symptoms may not appear fro many months or even years.
  • Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine.  At the present time there is no preventive vaccine for HIV.
  • No cure is presently available for either HBV or HIV.

If you must administer first aid to an injured person in the workplace and there is a potential for contacting any bodily fluids or blood, you must take standard precautions and follow these guidelines:

  • Wear impervious gloves when there is a chance of exposure to blood or body fluids.
  • Put on a face shield to protect your entire face, and use safety googles to provide the best and most complete eye protection.
  • Use protective resuscitation devices when performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Immediately wash your hands and any exposed and affected areas with soap and very warm water.  Wash for at least one minute.  Dispose of paper towels properly.
  • Flush your eyes, nose or other mucous membrane areas with warm water if they were exposed.  It's always better to be safe.
  • Remove and change clothing if exposed.
  • Report all Bloodborne Pathogen (BBP) exposures, or potential exposures to your supervisor immediately.

Make sure that all policies and procedures are followed in the event of an incident involving blood or body fluids anywhere in the workplace.  The immediate area should be secured so that the contaminate is not transferred to other areas.  It is recommended that an area of at least ten feet from the possible contamination be secured.

  • All personnel should examine their clothing for any contamination.  If they have been contaminated they should be allowed time off to change.
  • The area should be cleaned from the top going down with proper cleaning equipment and a detergent solution.  The area should then be rinsed with clean water and then sanitized with a Clorox solution prepared at a 1/4 cup of Clorox per gallon of water.
  • Any contamination should be bagged and disposed of immediately.
  • The supervisor should inspect the area before letting other employees return to work.
  • A report should be kept of all incidents with corrective and preventative actions noted and discussed with employees during safety training meetings.  Preventative actions should be discussed and implemented to prevent future incidents.



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