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 International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association

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Bloodborne Pathogens

16 Apr 2024 10:37 PM | Lori Weber

It is fundamentally important for cleaning employees and staff to be informed of the modes of transmission, clean-up, and effects of bloodborne pathogens because of the risks of occupational exposure.  Universal (Standard) Precautions tell us to treat every fluid as if it's infected with bloodborne pathogens, because it makes us more aware and careful with things that we could be touching/cleaning that has the potential to give us a serious disease. 

It is essential that cleaning staff are aware that something as simple as rubbing an itchy eye with an unprotected hand that had previously picked up a client's used washcloth could have a detrimental effect on their livelihood.  Bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted from touching infectious materials that have things such as blood, mucus, or bodily fluids on them by cleaning staff that aren't wearing the correct personal protective equipment.  The IM could be a wide range of things; a puddle of fluid (blood or otherwise), bed linens, broken glass, a needle, etc.

Clean-up and disposal of potentially infectious materials needs to be done thoroughly, following the instructions provided by OSHA with the use of the correct PPE.  This is not only because it's hazardous to a person's health, but because it can affect the rest of their life.  One example is, if a person were to contract HIV from cleaning infected material without the proper PPE, they could feel ill, be put in a hospital, be unable to work, therefore unable to pay bills, receive lifelong blood tests for monitoring, and be on antiviral medications for the rest of their life so that the disease doesn't progress.  This is why it is so important for cleaning staff to understand the risks associated with the correct way to use Standard Precautions and clean up potentially infectious materials.  Knowing the correct PPE, clean-up, and risks of bloodborne pathogens will increase the likelihood that proper precautions are taken to decrease the chance of infection and transmission.

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