Experts estimate that around 385,000 accidental injuries occur every year due to exposed sharps and needles. This is a very high number and proves the need to be careful on the scene of crimes and accidents. But do you know quite how dangerous these incidents are?
This article will help you understand the dangers of the bloodborne pathogens you may encounter in your environment. By the end of the article, you should have a greater idea of the danger you are in when around blood and other bodily fluids. That way, your response to them can be serious and measured.
Types of Bloodborne Pathogens
To start with, there are several types of pathogens, even before you start thinking about the individual diseases they cause. The following are three of the forms such pathogens can take:
Bacteria are single-celled organisms that multiply on their own. Millions of them already exist in your body in harmony with its processes, but your body is often invaded by foreign bacteria that can cause harm.
A parasite is a multi-celled creature whose body and its life cycle have adapted for it to live in another creature, such as a human. Examples of these creatures include tapeworms and head-lice, who do not kill off their host but use them to survive.
A virus is a special type of infectious mechanism that invades a host by replicating inside individual cells. It infiltrates a body, then rewrites the body’s cells to make more of itself, then attacks more of the host.
Common Bloodborne Pathogens
There are several well-known pathogens that tend to transfer due to poor hygiene in a cleanup environment. They include the following:
HIV (“The AIDS virus”)
These are two types of viruses that can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome in humans (AIDS). This can spread through an injection of infected blood, or if bloody bodily fluids touch mucous membranes. These membranes include your eyes, mouth, or nose.
HIV remains in the body and will begin to disrupt the immune system of the infected person over time. While there are treatments available in the modern world, it is still a disease with a significant level of stigma attached to it.
Hepatitis B and/or Hepatitis C
Hepatitis is an illness caused by (among other things) several viruses, labeled A through E.
Hepatitis B and C are transferrable via blood and mucous membranes in the same way as HIV. Hepatitis B, though, is a milder infection than C in terms of the symptoms and may either go unnoticed or get better on its own.
This does not mean that you should not be careful, though, as you can never know what problems an infection may bring. Any situation is just as likely to have Hepatitis C as it is to have B.
Clostridium Difficile, also known as C. Diff, is a bacteria that can cling to surfaces for a long period of time. It often affects people who have recently received treatment with antibiotics and is very easy to spread.
While rarely deadly, the effects of this infectious agent are particularly unpleasant. Infection by Clostridium Difficile may lead to a significant amount of time away from work with diarrhea and other symptoms.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is also known as its common name of a “staph” infection. It is a common bacteria that lives on as many as 3% of living people’s skin.
If it gets into a person’s body, though, MRSA can cause a lot of damage. This is because it is especially resistant to antibiotics.
MRSA is common in hospital environments due to the repeated use of antibiotics, creating resistant bacteria. This is not the only place it exists, though, and you can pick up this pathogen anywhere.
Recent MRSA Outbreak In The Workplace?
Check out these resources to stop the spread of MRSA:
How to Avoid Bloodborne Pathogens
If you are attempting to avoid the dangers of bloodborne pathogens such as the above, you should take several steps. The following are a standard list of actions you can take to assist in creating a safe environment for you and other workers:
Elimination: First, you should ensure the area is completely devoid of possible dangers. You must remove sharps and needles from the area, regardless of whether you think someone has used them or not.
If the environment requires the existence of needles for any reason, you should seek out alternatives. This will work to prevent their ongoing danger.
Substitution: You should replace any equipment that may cause cuts or may likely pierce the skin with alternatives. If no alternatives are available, ensure all safety features are being utilized. Examples of this may include using needles with safety caps or box cutters with surrounded blades.
Disposal: You should provide appropriate methods to remove sharps and needles from the area as fast as possible and with minimal risk. One example of how to do this is to provide “Sharps containers”. These are nowadays a common feature in any environment that may cause danger due to pathogen exposure.
Culture Changes: Working with those in your employment, you should create a culture of safety. This should include ensuring people take responsibility for the disposal of sharps. Another example would be ensuring people know why they should engage in decontamination.
Making sure that all your workers consider themselves responsible for one another can lead to a much safer environment.
PPE: Ensuring everyone has access to personal protective equipment and the knowledge of how to use it can foster a safe environment. This will ensure nobody will become exposed to blood, bodily fluids, or other transmission vectors.
Where to Learn More
You should now have a much more comprehensive idea of what bloodborne pathogens you may come across in your line of work. If you want to learn more about how to clean up better and avoid them, you can always get in contact with us.
Our team is available to answer any questions about these dangers and offer advice on how to deal with them. So, get in contact and start the conversation.