International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association

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"The Best Defense is a Thorough Offense"

30 Oct 2020 6:18 AM | Larry Westbrook

Living through a pandemic for the first time in my life, it has become more and more revelatory of how important it is to not only know about bloodborne pathogens but understand how they work and how they spread. Just imagine, with what's going on today, if no one took precaution after the first transmission of the Coronavirus. We would be at an all-time high of deaths from one epidemic. 

Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic (disease producing) microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans. Pathogens spread through contact with the human mucus membrane (nose, mouth, eyes). They include, but are not limited to HBV and HIV and symptoms may not appear for many years after exposure. Needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries can cause exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This includes but is not limited to healthcare professionals, first responders, housekeeping/janitorial staff, nurses and etc. 

"The best defense is a thorough offense." Employers should have and implement an exposure control plan for each facility. This is just as important as the employees reviewing these measures and putting them into practice. Knowing precautionary measures for anything helps prevent and lessen the likelihood of injuries, especially in worksites where there can be exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Each contact with a patient or patient care area should be treated as one that could be a possible exposure to a bloodborne pathogen. Personal protective equipment should be worn at all times to not only protect yourselves, but others in the facility. 

Ignorance can be the strongest key to life and death. A cleaning staff member who does not know the proper actions to take if exposed to an infectious bloodborne pathogen is more likely to contract an infectious disease than the one who has educated themselves according to OSHA standards. This does not only put the one staff member at risk, but those around them. Training on Bloodborne pathogens are just as important as the precaution itself. Handling sharps, needles or simply cleaning up blood or blood-soiled linens require proper training and a complete understanding of how bloodborne pathogens spread.

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