Working in the healthcare field is rewarding in many ways. However, there are certain risks as well as employees are exposed to bloodborne pathogens. In this article, we will take a look at some of the preventive measures that can help in greatly reducing the risk of the spread of bloodborne pathogens.

What are Bloodborne Pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens refer to harmful microorganisms in the blood. Contact with bloodborne pathogens can result in contraction of infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and many others.

Workers can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens in different ways. They can become exposed after being injured with infected needles or other sharp objects. Workers who are at increased risk of contracting bloodborne diseases include nurses, doctors, and paramedical staff such as first responders. Moreover, the janitorial staff is also at increased risk of contracting bloodborne pathogens.

Steps to Reduce Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has outlined some guidelines to reduce the exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The guidelines are mentioned in Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR Part 1910.1030. The aim of the guideline is to protect the life of the employees by taking proactive measures.

Every company is required to take concrete action for protecting employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The OSHA guideline states that all actual or possibly contaminated equipment should be disinfected. In addition, the company should identify job positions where workers are at increased risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

The guidelines also state that there should be a bloodborne pathogen exposure control plan. Also, there should be a written statement for bloodborne exposure prevention. Some of the areas that should be covered in the control plan include the following.

  • Hazard communication
  • Good hygiene practices
  • Safe handling and disposal of sharp objects
  • Sharps injury objects maintenance log
  • Hepatitis B vaccination
  • Follow-up of post exposure
  • Identification of Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safe work practices to minimize or completely eliminate possible exposure to blood and OPIM

Keep in mind that the bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan should meet the criteria specified by the OSHA. In order to make sure that the exposure plan meets OSHA’s requirements, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the following criteria should be met.

  • Readily available on request
  • Written for each facility
  • Reviewed and updated at regular intervals

Every company should act to identify and make plans for bloodborne pathogen exposure control. The exposure control plan should be communicated to employees who are expected to have contact with blood or bodily fluids through the mucous membrane, eye, skin, or parenteral contact. There should be guidelines for safe work practices for everyone who comes into contact with bloodborne pathogens. CPR certification on bloodborne exposure is also recommended for the employees. Taking the preventive action can help reduce risk of employee exposure to infectious diseases.