How Are Bloodborne Pathogens Transmitted? Be Aware Of Risks In The Workplace
Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms carrying diseases that can be transmitted from a person to another one through contact with infected blood and other bodily fluids. The most common bloodborne pathogens are hepatitis b, hepatitis c, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Unfortunately, there is a lack of awareness about the topic in the workplace and this can lead to many unexpected exposures creating an unsafe work environment. For this reason, OSHA developed a Bloodborne Pathogens Standard that mandates training for all employees with occupational risk of exposure.
Among other important things, training should address two very important questions: How are bloodborne pathogens transmitted, and where they can be found. This article will answer both.
Bloodborne pathogens can be found in human blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Let’s see what these two concepts refer to:
Infected human blood and its components (plasma, platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells).
Medications derived from blood, such as albumin or immune globulin.
Blood and tissues of animals that are used for research.
OPIM and Body Fluids
Any unfixed tissue or organ from a human (living or dead). “Unfixed” means that the cell lines have not been tested and proven to be free of infections.
Human body fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, pleural fluid, amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, and even saliva in dental procedures. All body fluids that are visibly contaminated with blood can carry diseases.
Most Common Ways Of Transmission In The Workplace
It is important to understand the ways of exposure and transmission of bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. Whether you are handling human cells in a laboratory or cleaning up blood in a hallway, if you are at risk of occupational exposure, you need to be aware of it.
Here are some of the most common ways in which bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted in the workplace:
Accidental punctures from contaminated sharps like needles or broken glass. These can happen in jobs where you handle knives or cutters. It can also happen if you are drawing blood for lab tests.
Contact between damaged skin or mucous membranes and infected blood or bodily fluids. You can be at risk when handling contaminated laundry or restroom facilities as well as during housekeeping shores.
A splash of contaminated blood to eyes, nose, or mouth. This can happen when treating a laceration or applying pressure to control bleeding. Health services workers are at high risk in this case.
Every employer is required to have an Exposure Control Plan to define all potential risks of exposure related to each occupation within the company.
Make sure to go through the information provided by your employer if you have any concerns about exposure.
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