Bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) are everywhere and can be easily transmitted from person to person. As microorganisms in the blood and bodily fluids, BBPs can be transmitted when blood or bodily fluids come in contact with one another through open cuts, sexual contact, or injured blood.
Most people tend to think of HIV as the most common BBP, but syphilis, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are all common illnesses that are transmitted through BBPs. A simple way to protect your self from these easily transmitted diseases is to sterilize and disinfect the areas where the person infected is staying, take precautions in the event that you may have to get in touch with the infected persons blood or bodily fluids with wearing gloves and masks. Since this is a large issue for many people, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) issued standards and regulations in 1991 to improve the containment of these potentially deadly diseases. Below are some fun facts about BBPs and OHSA's regulations.
• The OSHA has taken measures to protect employees within the work place by imposing standards that companies who employ at risk individuals (individuals who have the potential of coming in contact with blood or other bodily fluids) must follow. Some simple measures established by OSHA include wearing protective clothing and latex gloves.
• The OSHA has also required employers of at risk individuals to train employees upon hire and then review that training on an annual basis. Trainees will learn about how to define the various BBPs and why they are dangerous, indentify exposure risks, and prevention and handling practices of things like needle sticks.
• Some other simple precautions to take against BBPs are washing hands, never picking up glass or sharp objects with your bare hands, disposing medical waste properly, never smashing overflowing trash cans with your hands or feet, cleaning tables and equipment after each use, covering all cuts, open sores, and dermatitis, get a hepatitis B vaccine, and report all accident needle pokes. Although there are many precautions to take and diseases like HIV / AIDS or Hepatitis B / C are very serious, it is also important to remember that every exposure does not mean infection; however, if you are exposed it is still important to make a visit to your doctor.
• Exposure to BBPs does not necessarily have to be direct either, as there are several ways to be exposed to BBPs. Indirect exposure like picking up another person's soiled dressings is one way of coming in contact with another's infected blood or bodily fluids, while even inhaling in droplets from an an infected person can potentially measure exposure. Perhaps more frightening is vector-borne transmissions, where a person's skin is penetrated by an infectious source, such as mosquito's or other insects.
Although BBPs have the potential to be everywhere, there are many simple methods you can do to protect yourself without seeming too dramatic. Many companies even require BBP training, but it is always a good idea to get the training anyway and make sure that you know how to best protect yourself from these microorganisms.