Bloodborne pathogens are a serious concern, and it is important for employees to know how to respond in the event of an exposure incident. In this article, we will provide critical steps for safety and compliance when it comes to bloodborne pathogen exposure incidents in the workplace. We will cover what bloodborne pathogens are, how to identify an exposure incident, and what immediate action to take. Additionally, we will address how to report and document the incident, as well as compliance with post-exposure procedures. Let’s discuss what your company can do to prevent exposure incidents with these important employee training resources.
What are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens are contagious microorganisms that can make people sick and are present in human blood. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, generally known as HIV, are some of the most dangerous viruses, as well as herpes, malaria, syphilis, and more. Bloodborne pathogens are spread through contact with infected human blood and other potentially contagious substances such amniotic fluid, semen, and vaginal secretions. In the workplace, when an employee comes into contact with potentially infectious materials, it is called an exposure incident.
Identify the Exposure Incident
An exposure incident happens when potentially infected blood touches another employee's eyes, mouth, mucous membranes, or non-intact skin. Some examples of non-intact skin can include cuts, abrasions, hangnails, acne, or chafing. The most common ways that people become exposed to bloodborne pathogens are through needlesticks and sharps-related injuries. In order to prevent an exposure incident, it can be helpful to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when coming into contact with an infectious agent, and taking care when removing and disposing of your PPE.
Take Immediate Action
If you do experience an exposure incident, it is important to take action immediately. First, you should wash the injury with soap and water, flush your mucous membranes with water, and irrigate your eyes. Your very next step is to report the incident to your supervisor so that you can have a confidential medical evaluation with a healthcare professional. It is critical to seek prompt action after exposure incidents in order to reduce the risk or severity of infection. Treatment may include post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, a series of medications that can help prevent the transmission of bloodborne pathogens.
Report and Document the Incident
After you have received medical attention for your exposure incident, the next most important step is to document the situation. A typical incident report will include details about the exposure, such as the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as a detailed description of the incident. It will also include incident circumstances, such as names of any persons involved, the type of exposure, the source of the exposure, and any immediate action taken. Additionally, the report will include the results of any testing or medical evaluation that was done, the treatment that was administered, and any follow-up actions taken. Finally, the report will include a summary of the incident and any recommendations for preventing similar incidents in the future.
Compliance with Post-Exposure Procedures
This type of documentation is important for legal and compliance reasons because it provides detailed evidence of what happened during the incident, protecting employers from potential liability in the event of a lawsuit. It also provides an audit trail that can help ensure all safety protocols were followed and that the incident was handled in a timely and appropriate manner. Additionally, the reporting and documentation of exposure incidents is an important element of compliance legislation related to workplace safety and health, such as the standards and regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Preventing Future Incidents
Government agencies such as OSHA and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) can help employers identify any potential hazards or risks associated with exposure to human blood, and they also provide guidance and recommendations to help prevent future incidents. In addition, OSHA sets forth requirements for workplace training that effectively addresses bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention regulations. Proper training on bloodborne pathogen exposure can save lives through education, in the unfortunate event that your employee does come into contact with potentially infectious materials.
At EasyLlama, our newly updated Bloodborne Pathogens course meets and exceeds all federal requirements for employee training, covering exposure risks, the importance of PPE, post-exposure procedures, and more. EasyLlama courses do more than just fulfill compliance requirements, they use interactive quizzes and real-world, Hollywood-produced videos to improve knowledge retention when an emergency occurs. Make your workplace safer today with a free preview of EasyLlama’s workplace safety course suite.