Detroit Janitorial & Cleaning Services Blog

Are Cleaning Services Putting You At Risk With Bloodborne Pathogens?

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 07:04 AM

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Bloodborne pathogens are found in the human blood and if proper precautions are not taken, they can easily lead to infectious diseases. You can contract these infectious diseases at your work place while eating or working on contaminated desk, eating from unclean refrigerators, unknowingly using a tool with contaminated blood, or even while cleaning or using restrooms. The risk of infection is high among people who are exposed to blood and other body fluids due to their jobs. Workers in many occupations, including first aid team members, housekeeping personnel in some industries, employees that handle contaminated waste or trash, and  healthcare personnel, may be at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The  most common diseases caused by Bloodborne Pathogens are Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV.

If at work you accidentally get exposed to blood or other body fluids, you will need to clean that area as soon as possible. Cleaning precautions must be taken by cleaning personnel, such as allocating signs to inform others to avoid entering the area to reduce the risk of others getting exposed. If you take timely action, and have proper knowledge about bloodborne pathogens, it can help  in reducing the risk significantly. There are many everyday situations in today’s environment where events such as an accidental puncture by a sharp object contaminated with the pathogen, may occur.

Consider the following example:

A doctor is taking blood samples of various patients in his clinic using a needle and syringe. When he finishes with the process, he carelessly tosses the needle in the trash. The next morning, housekeeping comes to clean and take out the trash. While removing the bag from the trashcan, the staff member is stabbed through the plastic bag with the syringe and can get exposed to contaminated blood.

The number of infected people in the cleaning industry from accidental exposure to contaminated blood, is staggering and continues to increase. In answer to the growing problem, OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) issued a standard regarding bloodborne pathogens. This standard reaches many businesses and applies to any workplace in which workers face potential exposure to human blood or other body fluids that may carry a disease.

OSHA believes that the best way to prevent hazards from affecting employees is to eliminate them, rather than to protect the employee, through the use of personal protective equipment. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is composed of a written plan, entitled the Exposure Control Plan, training requirements, and recordkeeping guidelines. 

Not following OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens put people at risk of infection of many types of disease and sicknesses that are transmitted through bodily fluids.  In addition, OSHA could also impose heavy fines and result in negative publicity for a company in violation from an inspection.

What a Janitorial Contractor should do to follow the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard:

OSHA offers a wide selection of training courses and educational programs to help broaden worker and employer knowledge on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces. OSHA also offers training and educational materials that help businesses train their workers and comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Personal protective equipment is another area that is dealt with at length in the Standard. This is because OSHA has traditionally felt that personal protective equipment is the "last line of defense" in protecting employees from any hazard. They view bloodborne pathogens no differently. In addressing personal protective equipment the Standard requires that you provide employees with access to all types of personal protective equipment, including, but not limited to:

  • Gloves.
  • Gowns.
  • Face Shields.
  • Face Masks.
  • Eye Protection
  • Mouthpieces.
  • Pocket Masks (or other ventilation devices).

What facility mangers can do to make sure that their janitorial contractor is in compliance:

  • Ask to see their Bloodborne Pathogens Policy.
  • Require to see documented training before an employee is placed in their building.
  • Check the cleaning closet for Personal Protective Equipment that should include disposable gloves and safety glasses.
  • Talk to their cleaning at night to find out if they have been trained in and are they familiar with Bloodborne Pathogens.
  • Require that your next Cleaning Contract is ISSA CIMS GB Certified.

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Tags: Hospital & Medical Cleaning

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