Friday, 10 February 2012

Bloodborne Pathogens - 4 Points on Identifying and Managing Occupational Exposure

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Bloodborne pathogens are viruses in the blood that may infect and cause serious diseases if such blood or certain body fluids comes in contact with another person. Employees at healthcare facilities form the majority when it comes to such risks due to the nature of their jobs which requires constant contact with patients and contaminated materials. However there are other occupations too where employees may contract infection due to bloodborne pathogens.

The following points will tell you more about occupational exposure with respect to bloodborne pathogens.

Identifying Occupations: In additions to healthcare there are certain other occupations that are vulnerable to infections caused by bloodborne pathogens.

Public Safety Workers comprising of law enforcement personnel like the police and correctional officers as well as firefighters may have to deal with injured people or carry out rescue that can put them at risk

Laundry workers whether working within a healthcare facility or serving public safety institutions have to handle contaminated bed sheets, gowns or any other reusable materials.

Research personnel, laboratory staff, and people working at blood banks and tissue banks have to constantly work around blood or other samples that can be potentially infected.

Housekeeping staff in any healthcare facility have to continuously clean up any blood and fluid spillages, clear contaminated materials and disinfect the surrounding surface which puts them in a continual risk.

Often the bio-hazardous materials are collected from healthcare facilities by waste handlers who collect, transport and then appropriately dispose of such materials and have to be careful at all times against accidents due to poor storage.

Prepare and Prevent: It is the duty of the employers to identify the possible hazards of their respective occupation and formulate a policy accordingly to deal with it. Complete information and proper training must be provided to its employees. They must be taught on how to carry out their duties effectively while ensuring safety from infections when coming in contact with contaminated materials and instruments. The employees must also be told how the blood or fluids of individuals might contain pathogens that can cause diseases like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B and C Virus.

Equipment: A proper set of equipment is in fact the best kind of protection against infection from bloodborne pathogens. Gloves and face masks are common gear that is worn in all of the above occupations. In addition, protective eyewear, gowns and aprons may also be used. These help to avoid any contact with fluids or contaminated materials with your skin, mouth, eyes and nose. It also provides protection if you are injured and have broken skin that can be an entry-way for bloodborne pathogens.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a prominent federal agency that carries out regular inspections of such occupations. Examining policies and procedures, asking for employer's reports, interviewing employees, ensuring sufficient measures for maintaining cleanliness and proper usage of sign and labels are some of the activities carried out by OSHA to ensure all precautions are being taken to avoid infections caused by bloodborne pathogens.

For more information, please visit our bloodborne pathogens website.

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