The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard – Protecting Yourself from Bloodborne Pathogens
The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard was established with the goals of providing organizations with information on how best to set up programs of training and equipping their personnel with protective measures and tools that will prevent occupational exposure to blood and the other infectious substances it can potentially contain.
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Pathogens are micro-organisms that live in the blood and cause disease. Bloodborne pathogens are those bacteria and viruses that thrive in human blood and can infect others causing disease. There are two such pathogens that are more notable than the rest; HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), this virus can result in the AIDS condition, and (HBV) or Hepatitis B.
How Do Bloodborne Pathogens Spread in the Workplace?
The most common ways that bloodborne virus is spread in the workplace is through shared hypodermic needles and sexual transmission. Nevertheless, these pathogens can be transmitted through contact with any infected blood.
With the proper preventative measures and training it is possible to dispel all fears of infection and exposure in the workplace. Not taking these procedures seriously can result in a potential infection.
How to Protect Yourself from Bloodborne Pathogens During Biohazard Cleanup
It is important to understand the nature of the biohazards and how you can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of exposure and potential infection. The three essential aspects of protection in biohazards cleanup are personal preventive gear, attitude and housekeeping.
Personal Protective Equipment
Any clothing or protective equipment that can be applied to reducing the risk of exposure during routine activities on the job must be considered very important and applied properly. This begins with gloves, but can also include face masks, eye gear and gowns.
Your attitude toward the dangers of bloodborne pathogens will be your greatest protection. You must consider all bodily fluids and blood as potentially harmful and act with extreme prejudice.
Work Practices to Prevent Infection
If your line of duty requires that you provide CPR, first aid, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or clean up after an accident, it is essential that the proper protective measures are taken to avoid exposure and infection.
Protect yourself by following these steps:
Consider any blood and body fluid as if they were highly infectious.
When providing CPR or first aid, consider your own protection before you treat your victim.
Use Protective gear: gowns, gloves, eye gear and masks can all keep dangerous pathogens at bay.
When performing CPR, the one-way mask allows the oxygen to move in one direction and keep you safe from any pathogen in the vicinity.
Contain the spills before attempting to clean up the area.
Collect contaminated broken glass with tongs, forceps, or a suitable brush and dust pan. Never use your hands, as the shards are sharp enough to slice through latex and cause infection.
Consider that any trash bag contains both sharp items and infectious waste.
Contaminated clothing should be removed inside out and disposed of in appropriately labeled trash bags. Typically toting the “Biohazard” symbol.
After removing any protective gear, wash your hands thoroughly with an anti-microbial soap. Wash any other body parts that may have come into contact with infectious substances.
Place all used protective wear and all other infectious items in properly labeled “biohazard” bags and check with your supervisor for the proper procedures for disposing of them.
Stephanie is a Ph.D. graduate in Biology. Aside from being passionate about providing care to those who need it, she also loves sharing her knowledge about biohazard cleanup through writing in some blogs. She helps to spread awareness on the health risk of blood and body fluids.