WHAT ARE BLOOD BORNE PATHOGENS?
They are microorganisms in human body blood or body fluid that cause disease in humans. The two blood borne pathogens that have received the most attention and pose a serious health threat if contracted are:
- HBV – Hepatitis B Virus: which causes a severe form of Hepatitis in some or acts as a carrier in others
- HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus: This causes AIDS.
METHODS OF TRANSMISSION
- Blood borne pathogens are usually transmitted or passed on when disease organisms enter the body through mucus membranes or through breaks in the skin.
- They may be transmitted through the skin via accidental injection with needles, scalpels, shards of glass or biting.
- Other means of entry:
- Open cuts, nicks, skin abrasions and cracked skin.
- In the work place a common exposure to blood borne pathogens is:
- When an infected worker has an injury causing direct exposure to human blood and the person who comes to help them is not wearing the proper personal protective equipment or practicing universal precautions.
- Universal precautions Means: A method of infection control in which all blood and certain human body fluids are treated as if known to be infectious.
- Universal precautions are to be observed in all situations where there is a potential for contact with blood or other potentially infectious material.
- PPE (Personal protective equipment) should be used along with universal precautions when dealing with all body fluids.
- Qualified, trained first-aiders should be equipped to safeguard against this exposure.
- Be aware that you may have nick and cuts on you. Possible entry ways into the body are:
- Nicks & cuts in the skin, mouth, nose and eyes.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
- Personal protective equipment for protecting against blood borne pathogens are:
- Latex gloves, gowns, mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, and face masks
- These can significantly reduce the risks.
- The PPE must be suitable for the level of expected exposure and should be readily accessible to employees and available in appropriate sizes.
- Employees should be trained on the proper use of PPE and how to respond effectively and safely to an injury.
OSHA’S BLOOD BORNE PATHOGEN STANDARD
- OSHA’s Blood borne Pathogen Standard, 29 CFR Part 1910.1030, sets forth requirements to protect workers from occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens.
- The standard covers all employees, who could be reasonably anticipated as the result of performing their job duties, to face contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials.
- OSHA has not attempted to list all occupations where exposures could occur, however designated first aid providers are, in most cases, covered by the standard.
- The standard requires employers to establish a written exposure control plan, which would identify workers with occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material and specify means to protect and train them.
- The standard calls for engineering controls such as puncture resistant containers for used needles; work practice controls such as hand washing to reduce contamination; and personal protective equipment such as gowns and gloves.
- There are also requirements in the standard for housekeeping procedures, medical surveillance, Hepatitis B vaccination, signs and labels, etc.
- For more information on OSHA’s Blood borne Pathogen standard consult OSHA 1910.1030 standard available from your local/regional OSHA office.