15 Oct 10/15/2020
Blood is essential to every cell in our body; without it, we die. It's the vital ingredient that transports nutrients and oxygen to our cells and takes carbon dioxide waste back to the lungs for expulsion. However, blood carries infectious organisms, too, which can pose a risk to others. Bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) are disease-causing organisms carried in human blood and other bodily fluids.
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood," Leviticus 17.
Pathogens can infect workers with occupational exposure or job-related contact primarily with human blood through various exposure risks. An unexpected stick of a needle or other sharp tool or routine exposure to messy situations involving bodily fluids is the most common form of exposure to BBPs.
Wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for workers to protect themselves from these microorganisms. PPE includes clothing and equipment worn by a person to minimize the risk of harm while performing their duties. It can protect from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and help reduce exposure to potentially harmful substances when workers clean up bodily fluids such as vomit, urine, or feces.
Adequate PPE almost always starts with gloves and often includes eye protection like goggles, face shields, disposable masks, and gowns that protect workers' hands, skin, eyes, nose, and mouth. This article will take an in-depth look at bloodborne pathogens and the PPE that MCR Safety offers to help workers stay protected.
To reduce the possibility of exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBPs), employers must implement safety provisions as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030).
According to the standard, protection from all human blood, body fluids, and infectious materials must be considered. Here is a comprehensive list of biohazardous waste that may include dangerous pathogens and other potentially infectious materials (OPIMs) that pose a substantial risk to workers:
The most common contagious microorganisms that workers encounter and are exposed to include hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, other BBPs can infect workers when they are exposed by accident. Below is an additional list of bloodborne pathogens:
To eliminate occupational exposure to these dangers, OSHA provides various support to businesses and organizations, which we highlight in our next section.
As OSHA highlights in their 3186 publication, a written exposure control plan (ECP) must be established by any organization where workers are exposed to BBP hazards. The ECP plan will address the following:
OSHA also gives guidance on recognizing hazardsand what to do immediately after coming in contact with BBPs or an OPIM in the eyes, nose, mouth, or through broken skin.
They also provide a free, on-site safety and health consultation service. The On-site Consultation Program is not a part of OSHA's enforcement side, which means you don't have to worry about citations and penalties if you sign up to participate in it. If you and your company need help to address BBP hazards, reach out to their highly qualified occupational safety and health professionals for a consultation.
OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.1030 standard requires that any employee with a risk of exposure to infection from blood or other potentially pathogenic materials in the workplace must undergo BBP training to guarantee a healthy work environment and overall safety. At a minimum, the training covers the following:
For first-aid providers and healthcare professionals who work in blood banks, hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical settings, BBP training is required at least once a year or when there is a change in responsibility that exposes them to blood or OPIMs. Those working in HIV/HBV laboratories and production facilities must be capable of demonstrating they understand appropriate techniques and practices when working around BPP. Employers are responsible for assuring that employees are proficient in handling infectious agents.
The American Academy of CPR and First Aid offers free online BBP training, which covers the handling of blood and OPIMs. After passing a 20-question multiple-choice exam, an employee can obtain certification in bloodborne pathogens for a small fee, valid for one year from the date of issue.
BBPs impact any employee who may come in contact with human blood or OPIM. This includes more than 5.6 million workers in the United States across multiple industries and a wide range of occupations. Workers in the following fields are those with the highest risk of coming into contact with pathogens:
Blood Test Lab
Emergency Medical Services
According to OSHA, wearing the right kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) can considerably reduce the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
In compliance with the OSHA standard, employers must provide, clean, repair, and replace PPE as needed and at no cost to workers. The BBP standard requires employers to protect workers who may come into direct contact with blood and OPIMs while performing their job duties. Since PPE acts as a barrier against exposure, workers should protect their hands, face, eyes, and bodies by wearing protective gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection.
Here's an overview of MCR Safety's PPE that workers utilize for protection against BBPs:
Disposable gloves shield the skin from hazards.
Nurses are wearing MCR Safety face shields.
Our article on goggles highlights all of our top-selling styles.
How long do bloodborne pathogens live?
Where are bloodborne pathogens found?
Is hepatitis a bloodborne pathogen?
What is the bloodborne pathogens definition?
There is a lot of material around the subject of bloodborne pathogens. Here are some resources to consult if you'd like to learn more:
Protecting workers from exposure to bloodborne pathogens is a serious business, one that requires the best, most appropriate, and effective PPE on the market today. We hope the above provides you with all the knowledge needed around this vital subject matter and that the PPE we offer fits your workplace's needs. If you require additional assistance, we encourage you to contact us.
We welcome any comments, feedback, or suggestions for how we can best protect people at work.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on the shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. It’s all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protective equipment you need.
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.