Healthcare workers are often at risk for exposure to hazards such as bloodborne pathogens, harmful chemicals, and infectious diseases. The number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in healthcare workers is among the highest of any industry. Though it is impossible to prevent all exposures to hazards, with the proper safety precautions healthcare workers can help to reduce the risk.
What are some types of Bloodborne and Infectious Diseases?
- Bloodborne Diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C.
- Other Common Infectious Diseases:
- Bacterial: “Staph” skin infection, Pneumonia, Urinary tract infection
- Parasitic: Giardia diarrhea
- Viral: Influenza, Respiratory Infections, Diarrhea, Chickenpox, measles, mumps
How might healthcare workers be exposed?
There are numerous ways healthcare workers can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens or infectious diseases, below are just a few examples:
- Getting stuck by a needle or “sharp” that has infected blood or fluid on it (for example; a needle, a razor, or a piece of broken glass.)
- Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching contaminated materials
- Inhaling droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
How can occupational exposures be prevented?
- Proper hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infections
- Adhering to proper guidelines when dealing with blood or contaminated items
- Proper handling and disposing of linens and wastes
- Proper handling and disposing of sharps (for example- needles and diabetes sticks)
- Using the proper fitting gloves, masks, and protective clothing when necessary
- NEVER touch your mouth or eyes while wearing used gloves.
- When removing gloves, pull down from inside the wrist, so that they are inside out
- Throwing away gloves in a proper container
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Staying up-to-date with immunizations