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In the cleaning industry/profession there are many opportunities to come into contact with bloodborne pathogens. While it is more likely to come into play in some atmospheres more than others, it is extremely important for all employees in the cleaning industry to understand bloodborne pathogens, the risk associated with them, how to avoid them, and what the universal protections, as outlined by the CDC and OSHA regulations are as well as the appropriate way to implement them.
Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms (IE viruses and bacteria) that are found in human blood and other bodily fluids. These pathogens have the potential to be transmitted causing disease through contact with mucus membranes, scratches, cuts, or needle sticks. A list of common pathogens includes but are not limited to Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV. All of these pathogens have the potential to take years to develop or become detectable, as well as debilitating side effects including severe liver damage and AIDS. In some cases, saliva and vomit may harbor bloodborne pathogens as well.
According to the CDC's universal approach "All patients should be considered potentially infectious, and precautions should be taken to minimize risk of exposure." Following this line of thought, any cleaning personal, especially, but not reserved to, those in healthcare settings should be aware of and take measures against all exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
THE BEST DEFENSE IS OFFENSE
To be offensive in the work environment Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary. PPE encompasses many thing including gloves, masks, and eyeglasses. It is important to remove such PPE and dispose of it in appropriately labeled containers or color-coded bags after decontamination of an area, and then wash hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of pathogens, disease or infection. One should never eat, drink, smoke, apply lip balm, or touch face while working in an environment where there is a risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. It's very important to never compress trash, because it may contain contaminated material. Using tools to aid in clean up, such as tongs or absorbent sponges, is always preferred to limit touching of potentially infectious materials. Handling linens cautiously and always disinfecting cleaning containers after use is a must!
Following these protocols outlined by the CDC and OSHA will help to keep you and your employees safe. Let's all enjoy a clean and healthy work environment!
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