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Knowledge is critical for your safety with bloodborne pathogens

26 May 2024 8:52 AM | Marcie Taylor

Our company has employees that are not typically in direct contact with blood borne pathogens but since we service hospital kitchens, likelihood of exposure could be higher at certain customers. Not to mention that someone could cut themselves on the sharp equipment in the kitchen and they would need to have such knowledge to be safe. And even in a restaurant environment, a customer could be sick. Thus, understanding OSHA's bloodborne pathogen protocol is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment.

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans, including but not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) aims to protect workers from these health hazards by ensuring they are knowledgeable about potential risks and the measures necessary to prevent infection. This standard is applicable across various settings, including healthcare facilities, laboratories, and any workplace where there is a reasonable expectation of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Since we offer cleaning in these places, our employees need to have knowledge to keep everyone safe. 

Universal precautions are a key component of the protocol, requiring that all human blood and OPIM be treated as if they are known to be infectious for bloodborne pathogens. This approach minimizes the risk of exposure and transmission. Fundamental protective practices include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, face shields, and masks; proper hand hygiene; and the safe disposal of needles and other sharps. Additionally, engineering controls like sharps disposal containers and needleless systems, alongside work practice controls such as not recapping used needles, further enhance safety. Employers must ensure that these controls are in place and that employees are trained to use them effectively.

Employers bear significant responsibility in implementing and maintaining bloodborne pathogen protocols. They must develop a written Exposure Control Plan (ECP) that outlines the measures to eliminate or minimize exposure risks. This plan should include details on employee training, vaccination programs (notably the HBV vaccine), and procedures for post-exposure evaluation and follow-up. Regular training sessions are essential to keep employees informed about potential hazards and updates to safety practices.

Additionally, employers are required to provide appropriate PPE at no cost to employees and ensure its proper use and maintenance. By adhering to these responsibilities, employers not only comply with OSHA regulations but also foster a safer workplace environment, thereby protecting their workforce from the serious health risks associated with bloodborne pathogens. Knowing how to be safe in the every customer we service is crucial for every employee. 


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