International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association

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Bloodborne Pathogens

02 Apr 2021 4:30 PM | Kamala Waller

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans, with that being said that’s enough to make cleaning employees and staff want to be cautious when dealing with body fluids.  Needle sticks and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to bloodborne pathogens. Workers in many occupations, including first responders, housekeeping personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel, all may be at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens.  Therefore it is very important for people that work in fields that are exposed to such dangerous materials be aware of bloodborne pathogens and any other materials that may cause infection or even death.

However, we can control the exposure to bloodborne pathogens if we implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an employer will use engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, employee training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, and other provisions as required by OSHA.  Manufacturing controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimizing employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices, such as needleless devices, shielded needle devices, and plastic capillary tubes.

Whether you know it or not, all occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) places workers at risk for infection from blood borne pathogens. According to OSHA, they define blood to mean human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood. Other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) means: (1) The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, anybody fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids; (2) Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and (3) HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.


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