What are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are infectious organisms that travel through human blood. They cause disease (illness) in other humans through direct exposure. The most common of these pathogens include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), so exposures often occur through a needlestick or other sharps-related injuries in the workplace.
Who’s at Risk for Exposure?
Workers that are most at risk are those whom we might expect to come into contact with human blood or other body fluids in the course of their regular work, like healthcare personnel and first responders. However, there are several other professions that may inadvertently involve coming into contact with needles/sharps, blood, or body fluids, including hotel workers, housekeepers, plumbers, refuse disposal workers, and maintenance staff. Thankfully, the good news is that exposure to Bloodborne pathogens is preventable with proper safety protocols.
What can we do to Eliminate or Limit Exposure to Employees?
In order to reduce or eliminate the risk of employer exposure to bloodborne pathogens, employers are required to implement an exposure control plan specific to each worksite that details measures to protect employees. The plan must include the following:
- Work practice control measures (ie visualizing an area, such as under a bed, before reaching underneath OR not trying to recap needles).
- Implementation of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including, not limited to gloves, safety goggles, closed-toe shoes, etc
- Employee bloodborne pathogen training at a frequency determined by federal or each state’s OSHA BBP standards.
- Offering recommended medical surveillance which may include Hepatitis B vaccines. So Work Health Solutions offers a variety of Health Surveillance services to help prevent exposure to BBP.
What do we do in the Event of a BBP Exposure?
If an employee is stuck by a needle or other sharp or potentially infectious materials, clean the area appropriately:
- Mucous membrane (Eyes): Immediately flood the eye with water for 15 minutes.
- Non-mucous membrane wound: Wash the area with soap and water for 15 minutes.
Because of the dangers of BBP exposure, report the incident to the employer and seek immediate medical attention per the employer’s BBP protocol.
We Can Help!
Work Health Solutions has made it its mission to help provide necessary healthcare for those who need it. We especially help those in the working environment. Because we understand the difficulty of occupational health and taking care of employees in the workplace, we want to help! Therefore, if you need help putting together a strategy, contact us today.
Additional BBP Exposure Control Resources:
- OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.1030
- OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen and Needlestick Prevention: https://www.osha.gov/bloodborne-pathogens/resources