International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association

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The Importance of Cleaning Employees & Staff Knowing about Bloodborne Pathogens

26 Oct 2020 12:56 PM | Mark Moore

Bloodborne pathogens refer to the pathogen micro organisms present in blood that cause viruses and diseases. Bloodborne pathogens include viruses like Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Cleaning staff may come in contact with these pathogens when removing trash, changing laundry, or cleaning up after something that has become ill. Bloodborne pathogens are spread through blood and bodily fluids, like vomit and saliva. According to OSHA, The most common method of transmission is when an infected person's blood enters another person's bloodstream through an open wound or cut, or when inhaled through the mouth or nose (https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/2019-03/bloodbornepathogens.pdf).

Subsequently, as a commercial and residential cleaner it is very likely that our staff may come in contact with these bloodborne pathogens. Furthermore, failure to properly handle those pathogens could lead to deadly exposure by our staff members causing illnesses and disease. In addition, by not properly handling these materials can also increase the chances of spreading the bacteria throughout other contaminated and non-contaminated areas increasing the chances of greater exposure to staff and others. Moreover, the potential of exposure to viruses like HIV could prove deadly as there is no cure.

Consequently, OSHA’s Universal Precautions standards dictate that blood and bodily fluids from all patients should be considered potentially infectious and such precautions should always be taken when handling the materials. Therefore, it is ASAC’s responsibility to ensure the safety of our staff if and/or when they may encounter such germs. The first step is creating, maintaining, and frequently updating our OSHA approved bloodborne pathogens handling safety procedures. The plan will address:

  • 1.       Our employees using those “universal precautions” when coming into contact with blood or any bodily fluid. What happens if the employee becomes exposed to a bloodborne pathogen? What safety procedures should be enforced by the employee and supervisor? These records will be properly stored and available for no less than 3 years.
  • 2.       The proper procedures for handling bloodborne pathogens, including the disinfecting of cleaning equipment and supplies once clean up has been completed. In addition, we want to detail how to properly dispose of waste in the appropriate red or yellow bags, as indicated by OSHA.
  • 3.       What personal protective equipment (PPE) will be necessary when handling bloodborne pathogens to protect the skin, mouth, nose, and eyes and reduce the possibility of transmission of deadly viruses to our employees and spread to non-contaminated areas.
  • 4.       A plan for routine training and onboarding training for new employees. It will be absolutely necessary to inform all staff concerning the proper protocols and importance of properly identifying, handling, and clean-up of deadly bacteria that can cause sickness and even death.

The manner in which bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted to otherwise healthy individuals is a relatively easy occurrence. Especially within the commercial cleaning industry, as we are often requested to clean medical facilities, doctor’s and dental offices, and other industrial areas where bodily fluids may be present. Therefore, it will be absolutely vital for our employees to be well informed and continually updated concerning the proper procedures surrounding the handling of bloodborne pathogens.


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