Blood-borne Pathogens are microorganisms, such as viruses or bacteria, which are carried in blood and can cause disease in people. There are many different Blood-borne Pathogens, including Hepatitis B (HBV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), malaria, syphilis, and brucellosis. OSHA requires training specifically for HBV and HIV.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. While there are several different types of Hepatitis, Hepatitis B is transmitted primarily through “blood to blood” contact.
- The Hepatitis B virus is very durable, and it can survive in dried blood for up to seven days. For this reason, this virus is the primary concern for hotel personnel, who may come in contact with blood or potentially infectious materials in a non-medical care situation.
- The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting the Hepatitis B vaccine. The Hepatitis B vaccine is effective in the prevention of contracting the virus and is usually given as 3-4 shots over a 6-month period.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- AIDS,or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is caused by a virus called the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Once a person has been infected with HIV, it may be many years before AIDS actually develops. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, weakening it so that it cannot fight other deadly diseases. AIDS is a fatal disease, and while treatment for it is improving, there is no known cure.
- The HIV virus is very fragile and will not survive very long outside of the human body. It is primarily of concern to employees providing first aid or medical care in situations involving fresh blood or other potentially infectious materials. It is estimated that the chances of contracting HIV in a workplace environment are only 0.4%. However, because it is such a devastating disease, all precautions must be taken to avoid exposure.
- If contaminated fluids make direct contact with an open wound.
- Accidental puncture from a contaminated needle.
- Injury that breaks the skin and is incurred by any object that has contaminated blood on it.
- Never place your hands into an area that you cannot see, for example, inside chair cushions, between mattresses and box springs, inside bushes.
- Never use your hands to compact trash. Always use the small trash can.
- Wear protective equipment appropriate for the job you are performing. When removing soiled linen from a room, always wear gloves. When cleaning surfaces that may have had contact with bodily fluids, such as all bathroom surfaces, trash cans and bedding, always wear gloves. When cleaning or removing heavily contaminated materials, always wear gloves, an apron, goggles, and a mask.
- Before removing the gloves, always wash them with soap and water and remove one at a time, by peeling back the wrist cuffs over each glove before disposing of them in the trash. Then wash hands with soap and water.
- If a needle is discovered, it must not be touched by any employees. You, or the required person at the location, must bring a Sharps container and tongs to the site of the needle. The needle must only be handled with the tongs and placed into the sharps container and then removed from the room.
- If linen is severely contaminated with blood, wear full protective equipment when handling. The linen must be transferred to a red Blood-borne Pathogen disposable bag.
- If a room is severely contaminated, a professional biohazard team should be called in to properly clean the room.
Proper Disposal of Contaminated Materials:
- All Blood-borne Pathogen disposable bags and sharps containers must be removed from the property by a licensed biohazard waste company. These items may never be thrown away in the property dumpster.
In the Event of Exposure:
- If you feel you may have been dangerously exposed to a Blood-borne Pathogen, report it immediately to your supervisor.
- If you are punctured with a needle, report it immediately to your supervisor and seek medical attention.
- The doctor will perform a series of tests to determine contamination and possible infection and will schedule a follow-up visit for the same tests a few months down the road.