Bloodborne pathogen exposure

December 1, 2012

First responders are at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, NIOSH warns.

Exposure can occur by way of needlesticks; contact with contaminated sharp objects; or eye, mouth, nose or broken skin contact with blood or other potentially infectious bodily fluids. Workers may be reluctant to report these incidents.

NIOSH offers these tips to employers for encouraging employee reporting of exposures:

  • Establish a policy stating that all potential exposures must be reported.
  • Identify and address issues, workplace culture or barriers that discourage reporting.
  • Make sure employees know what an exposure is and the risks of infection.
  • Establish an easy-to-use system for reporting and evaluating exposures.
  • Ensure reports are handled promptly and confidentially.
  • Assure your employees that reporting an exposure will not affect their job or performance evaluation.
  • Keep a record of exposures. Look for patterns of exposure and seek solutions to prevent future exposures.