Bloodborne Pathogens: Safety Topics - March 2018 - Week 3


This week we are going to talk about Bloodborne pathogens: what they are, how they are transmitted, risks they pose and ways to ensure you are thoroughly protected against transmission.

Monday - Bloodborne Pathogens - What are They?

Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that are carried in the blood and can cause diseases if we come into contact with these microorganisms. Pathogens can be:

  • Viral – AIDS, Hepatitis B, colds, flu and Herpes
  • Bacterial – Intestinal diseases, Tuberculosis, Gonorrhea
  • Fungi – Athlete’s foot, Farmer’s lung, Asthma/Allergies
  • Parasites – Giardiasis, Malaria, Trichinosis

Tuesday - What are Bloodborne Pathogens Found?

Bloodborne pathogens are found in skin tissue, blood, saliva, vomit, urine and any other bodily fluid. The pathogen must be present in the body for transmission to occur. There are specific conditions that need to be present in order for transmission to occur: the pathogen must be present in the bodily fluids, there must be a sufficient quantity of bodily fluids and there must be an entry route for the pathogens to enter the body:

  • Direct Contact – Contact with bodily fluids, administering first aid, post-injury cleanup, janitorial or maintenance work, improper handling of infected waste
  • Indirect Contact – Contact with objects contaminated with bodily fluids
  • Inhalation  - Breathing in airborne pathogens, Meningitis, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis can all be transmitted through the air 
  • Ingestion – Eating/drinking contaminated food and/or water
  • Vector – Animal/insect bites.

Note that people with compromised immune systems can be more susceptible to transmission.

Wednesday - Methods to Protect Yourself Against Transmission - Universal Precautions

  • Treat all blood and bodily fluids as if they are contaminated
  • Control access to contaminated area until area is thoroughly cleaned
  • Wear PPE when working with and around bodily fluids – Always check PPE for defects before using and replace defective PPE
  • Use engineering controls and safe work practices
  • Wash thoroughly after handling bodily fluids – Sing Happy Birthday to ensure you wash long enough
  • Remove PPE before leaving a contaminated area and properly dispose of all contaminated material
  • Do not reuse disposable equipment

Thursday - Access to Medical Records

Under OSHA regulations, current and former employees and their designated representatives have the right to access relevant exposure and medical records that are related to workplace exposure to “toxic substances or harmful physical agents”.

“Toxic substances and harmful physical agents” includes metals (lead, for example) and environmental factors such as noise.

The term “medical records” includes:

  • SDS’s for substances to which the employee was exposed
  • Air monitoring results.
  • Noise level monitoring results
  • Any documentation which occurred in relation to exposure to the toxic substances or harmful physical agent.

Exposure monitoring records and medical record information is located in Human Resources at most of our businesses. Contact HR or your manager for more information and they will help you get the information you want.

Friday - Freestyle Friday

Check your work area – do you have the proper equipment to protect yourself in the case of an incident involving blood or other bodily fluids? Are the right cleaning supplies and disposal equipment available? Make sure you have what you need just in case!

Tags: safety tips , health and wellness , injury prevention ,

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