International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association

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The Dangers Of Bloodborne Pathogens Can Be Avoided With Precautions

14 May 2019 6:45 PM | Deleted user

Cleaning employees and staff may encounter situations involved with exposure to blood and/or bodily fluids. Removing trash like used syringes, bloody laundry contact, and cleaning vomit are all tasks connected to bloodborne pathogens. These pathogenic microorganisms are present in human blood and can cause diseases in humans. Hepatitis B (HBV-available at no cost for employees) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are only a few examples of bloodborne pathogens. 

While OSHA initially constructed the Bloodborne Standard in favor of hospital and healthcare staff, other occupations vulnerable to blood contact and/or toxic material have since adopted it as well. Common exposure to bloodborne pathogens happens when the mucus membranes (ex: mouth, nose, breaks in skin) of employees come in contact with bloodborne pathogens. Even body fluids like blood, saliva, and vomit may contain bloodborne pathogens.

The dangers of bloodborne pathogens can be avoided with precautions. Established by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Universal Precaution suggests blood and some body fluids should all be considered possibly infectious for patients. With this in mind, it's critical to follow suggested safety measures and your company's personal plan upon handling material. It's important to check equipment (esp. gloves) for damages or risks before use.  All equipment should be in unharmed, good condition. Disposable latex (or vinyl) gloves and eye protection should be worn whenever there's work with infectious material. Sometimes face masks and gowns are used as protective measures.  Avoid compressing garbage bags so sharp objects don't penetrate through (as well as laundry). Also, never splash or splatter a spill while cleaning or disposing. Never reuse a sponge or towel previously contaminated with cleanup. Tongs can be used to pick up contaminated, or sharp, items. Use an absorbent cleaning product for body fluid/liquid cleanups. Soiled laundry should be handled with little turbulence, bagged at the location (without sorting), and transported in labeled or color coded bags/containers. Different ways of color coding and labeling may be accepted if followed under universal precaution. If not available, bags must be correctly labeled and colored red or orange. Effectively sterilize any reusable, toxic equipment. Finish with the proper disposal of equipment through colored bags and/or containers. Finally, immediately wash your hands with an antibacterial soap after removing gloves.  

Exposure? First you'll want to contact your supervisor right away. They will have specific instructions for the procedure. For the record, OSHA requires records from the employer of the exposure incident, for at least 3 years. Your physician should be notified as well. It important to watch your health and take note of any symptoms or changes. 

Precautions against bloodborne pathogens in the workplace should be used to avoid illness and even death. Protective equipment can assist with safety. The goal is not only to guard thyself but equally or more importantly shield the safety, health, and lives of others. Reviewing annual updated exposure plans can further protection. Reducing the risk of bloodborne pathogen contact provides a safer environment for everyone. 


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