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Bloodborne Pathogens: Exposure in the Workplace

24 May 2021 7:29 AM | Andrea Martinez

It is extremely important for cleaning employees and staff to know about bloodborne pathogens, because you simply can't predict whether people carry a bloodborne pathogen by the way they look or behave. Anyone can be a carrier, and you wouldn’t know it. They might not even know it. Which is why you should treat every situation as though the person is a bloodborne pathogen carrier.

Everyone should protect themselves against bloodborne pathogens exposures, most importantly those who may come in close contact such as cleaning employees and other staff. OSHA requires any person at a company who may come into contact with blood or OPIM as part of their job duties to be trained on bloodborne pathogens exposures at the beginning of their assignment, and to receive refresher training once a year after that. Employers are required to offer these individuals the hepatitis B vaccine series protection, and also to have an “Exposure Control Plan” that outlines the steps to take when blood or OPIM are likely to be present. Even in the safest of settings, anyone can get injured on the job, and it’s human nature to want to come to their aid. So, no matter what your job is, you need to be aware of how hazardous bloodborne pathogens are and know how to protect yourself.

It’s an unfortunate fact that exposure to bloodborne pathogens can happen to anyone, at any time. But there’s no need to turn an accident into a life sentence of worry and illness. Protect yourself. Protect your co-workers. And, protect your family, friends and quality of life. Know and follow the precautions every person should take when there’s a potential for exposure to bloodborne pathogens: • Treat all blood and OPIM as if it’s contaminated; • Use proper personal protective equipment; • Learn and heed special labels and signs; • Follow protective work practices; • Take advantage of the hepatitis B vaccine; and • Follow appropriate cleanup, disposal and labeling procedures. The key is: when there’s a potential for exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace, prepare before you act. Your life and the lives of those closest to you, may depend on it.

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