Written by Shashank Joshi
Blood borne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms present in human blood that cause diseases. These pathogens are transmitted when the infected person’s blood or body fluids enter a non-infected body via human bites, cuts, abrasions, needle sticks and through mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth. For example, pathogens can spread by providing first aid to a student or friend, handling blood samples in the laboratory, or cleaning up blood from the corridor.
Apart from blood, other potentially infectious body fluids include semen, cerebrospinal fluids, peritoneal fluid, saliva, amniotic fluid, vaginal secretions, pleural fluid and any body fluid that is contaminated with blood. There are several diseases that can be contracted through blood borne pathogens such as AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C and more.
Potential exposure to blood borne pathogens comprises of occupational exposure to human-derived blood and other bodily substances. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, employers should have a control program, an outline for employers that takes the protective measures to eliminate or reduce employees’ exposure. Thus, a blood borne pathogen preventative program is ideal for employees prolonged to blood or blood products in the work place. The precautions for protecting yourself against blood borne pathogens are included in the blood borne pathogen program, as listed below:
- Universal precautions: Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent skin or mucus membranes infecting bodily fluids. PPE includes gloves, gowns, lab coats, masks, mouthpieces, mechanical respiratory devices, and eye protection. If there are any damages to the PPE use is not recommended. Bodily fluids should be considered infectious if not sure.
- Engineering controls: Companies provide certain equipments to protect their employees by providing hand washing facilities, alternate hand washing devices, needle safety devices, Sharps containers, bio safety cabinets, splash guards and resuscitation masks.
- Work practice controls: These are the steps every employee must follow to guarantee their protection against blood borne diseases like washing your hands with water and antiseptic every time after touching PPE and bodily fluids. Eating, drinking, or smoking in work areas that are potential occupational exposures is not recommended. Also, decontaminating the contaminated equipment and area may be required.
- Housekeeping: All work places need to be maintained and sanitary constantly. A cleaning schedule should be applied and written for the housekeeping department to follow.