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Many of us have heard the old saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Though simple, this phrase contains life-saving advice, especially when dealing with bloodborne pathogens. As we have seen in the year 2021, proper precautions while dealing with contaminates helps to eliminate or at least reduce the spread of infectious disease. Cleaning staff plays a major role in this prevention by following important protocol set in place by OSHA and the companies that employ them.
Exposure to bloodborne pathogens can occur with the simplest of events. Diseases can enter the body not only through cuts and abrasions on a person's body, but also through eating, drinking, or smoking in a contaminated area. Not only can one easily become a risk, they can be a risk for years before a diagnosis, potentially exposing thousands they come in contact with. It is our job to be diligent at all times so as not to become infected and spread disease.
In order to protect those around us, we must follow a few procedures. Always assume bodily fluids are contaminated. Look for and dispose all needles in bedding. Do not reuse gloves and other items that have come in contact with pathogens. Disinfect equipment such as mop buckets and surfaces with proper disinfectants. Never reuse towels and other porous equipment that has been used to clean up bodily fluids and other exposure risks.
As mentioned earlier, we must assume that all exposures are risks, and symptoms may not occur for years after infection. Because these symptoms can also easily be dismissed as minor illness, it is important to contact your supervisor, doctor, and all those necessary to make sure everyone is aware and can also take precautions. Health records should be maintained for future reference, and medications and treatments such as vaccines should be readily available for the safety and care of staff.
Cleaning staff may not feel like they play a major role in society, but they are the first responders to bloodborne pathogens. Cleaners are a vital key to preventing major outbreaks of disease, and maintaining the safety of society. By extreme awareness and proper cleaning procedures, they can help prevent the spread of major illnesses.
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