In some types of work, employees are exposed to blood on a regular basis. Doctors, nurses, dentists, phlebotomists, and paramedics routinely treat patients who are injured or need to draw blood for testing or make incisions to provide treatment. Technicians who analyze samples in a laboratory may handle the blood of dozens of people on a daily basis.
Why Personal Protective Equipment Is Critical
For people in these lines of work, the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens is significant. It is impossible to tell if a sample of blood contains HIV, hepatitis, or another type of pathogen without laboratory testing, which is why healthcare workers should take measures to protect themselves in all cases. Employees who are exposed to blood in the course of their work should use personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of contracting a blood-borne illness.
Choosing the Right Protective Equipment
The type of PPE required will depend on the situation. Someone who handles tubes of blood in a lab can be adequately protected by wearing gloves, but a surgeon or dentist may have a higher risk of exposure because of the possibility of blood spraying. In those situations, healthcare providers should protect themselves with gloves, a mask that covers the nose and mouth, goggles, and a gown that covers clothing. First responders may need to use different types of PPE depending on the circumstances and the extent of the patient’s injuries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide PPE if workers can be expected to come into contact with blood in the course of their duties. The type of PPE that must be provided will depend on the line of work and the risk of exposure. Protective equipment must be readily available to employees and must be provided in a variety of sizes. Employees should be trained in when and how to use PPE and should be encouraged to do so. Protective equipment should be disposed of in approved containers or bags after use.
Protect Yourself and Your Coworkers
If you work in a field where you may come into contact with other people’s blood, you should always use personal protective equipment to avoid exposure to an infectious illness. Any blood sample should be considered potentially contaminated. Exercise an abundance of caution and wear gloves and other types of protective equipment that are necessary based on the circumstances. Following safety protocols consistently can keep you and your fellow employees safe.
1st Aid Supplies offers a complete line of personal protective equipment to keep workers safe from blood-borne pathogens. Protect yourself and your employees by ordering gloves, masks, and other supplies today.