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Bloodborne Pathogens

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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OSHA estimates of workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace number around 5.6 million, many of whom are exposed to diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Hospital employees and housekeepers are sometimes exposed to injury and bloodborne pathogens as a result of incorrectly handled sharps, but other workers may also be exposed to bloodborne pathogen hazards from spilt fluids, improper cleanup, and other accidents.

In response to the Needlestick Prevention Act of 2001, OSHA has updated standards to reflect changes in needle-less systems and injury protection technology. They have also updated standards for logging injuries and Exposure Control Plans, which are designed to minimize employee expose to sharps in the workplace. OSHA also requires that personal protection be used, which is commonly available as facemasks, eye shields, and protective gloves.

OSHA requires that protective gear such as gloves, gowns, coats, or eye protection keep potentially infectious materials from contact with an employee's clothes or skin for the duration of use, and many biohazard clean-up kits or response packs include adequate equipment to do so. In order to meet OSHA regulations, powder-less gloves, glove liners, or other hypoallergenic alternatives must also be supplied to workers who are exposed to hazardous materials, such as bloodborne pathogens, in the workplace.

Insuring Compliance With Bloodborne Pathogens Regulations

Safety videos, charts, and compliance manuals are available from safety products suppliers nationwide, and are a good way to inform those who are exposed to hazards of the potential dangers involved. Locating safety kits in accessible areas near hazard zones can also greatly reduce the potential for serious injury. Whether it is hospital employees or plant workers, injury resulting from the improper cleanup of materials too often results in the contraction of serious or fatal diseases.


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