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Do you know how important it is to properly dispose of potentially contaminated sharps and soiled items? Did you know that neglecting to disinfect an area exposed to human blood or bodily fluids could possibly expose you or someone else to bloodborne pathogens? Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause diseases in humans. HBV (Hepatitis B Virus), HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) are examples of pathogenic microorganisms that can be contracted from blood, bodily fluids and (OPIM) Other Potentially Infectious Material and is extremely dangerous to humans. Symptoms for HIV, HCV and HBV microorganisms do not show up immediately after exposure. Cleaning staff, employers and healthcare workers are responsible for providing and maintaining safe environments for all staff including their selves.
As the spread of infectious diseases continue, so should cleaning practices. Cleaning staff, especially those in the healthcare field, are at risk for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. It is important that all cleaning staff and employers are familiar with the job, its risks and the proper protective practices. Staff should always consider body fluids, blood, needlesticks and (OPIM) as potentially infectious. Practicing universal precautions when handling potentially contaminated materials or needles of any kind could also mean the difference between life and death if exposed to bloodborne pathogens. Bloodborne pathogens have multiple ways to travel into someone’s system once exposed. Bloodborne pathogens can enter through cuts, scraps, bits and by mixing with the mucus from inside of your nose or mouth. Color coded bags for contaminated items and labeled sharp containers for needlesticks are a couple examples of practicing universal precautions to protect you and others.
(OSHA) Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a bloodborne pathogen standard that requires employers who employ people to work under conditions that could expose them to potentially infectious and harmful microorganisms provide an exposure control plan, work and engineering practice control. It is the employer’s job to train staff and implement a plan for exposure control. Having an exposure control plan in place can reduce or eliminate occupational exposure and should also give you detailed instructions on what action/s to take if exposure does occur. Employers and cleaning employees play an important role in the lives of others when it comes to disinfecting and preventing potentially infectious microorganisms from being spread. Employees have a right to safe and healthy work conditions. It is a federal law that employees must provide a hazard free work environment at all times. It is our job to protect our health and prevent the spread of infectious diseases by practicing the proper protective precautions.
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