Those who work in the field of healthcare, i.e., medical, dental, nursing homes, EMS, and others such as law enforcement, are trained to take Universal Precaution: the approach to infection control with regard to human blood and potentially infectious materials as if they were known to be infectious. It is estimated that 5.6 million workers in the health care industry are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, such as:
- Hepatitis B, which is more transmittable than HIV; affects liver.
- HIV; Human Immunodeficiency Virus;
- Hepatitis C. This is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, most often caused by needlestick injuries. If not treated properly, it can lead to active liver disease.
Employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens must receive proper training. The appropriate use of personal protective equipment is mandated by the Bloodborne Pathogens Standards.
Goggles, and glasses with sideshields should be utilized as needed, as they drastically reduce health risks to workers. An OSHA standard covering bloodborne disease requires employers to provide appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing free of charge to employees. Hand washing facilities should be readily available to employees, and designated areas should be assigned for washing, storage or discarding of PPE.
Employers must have Exposure Control Plans and provide post-exposure prophylaxis and follow-up treatment of workers’ exposure incidents.