Blood-borne Pathogens Exposure Prevention

Blood-borne pathogens are microorganisms in blood that can cause disease in humans. Examples include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Employees can be exposed in a variety of ways through needle sticks, cuts from sharp instruments and broken contaminated glassware such as vacutainers.  Employees working in healthcare fields are not the only workers at risk of exposure.  Emergency first responders, housekeeping personnel, nurses, veterinarians, and researchers handling human pathogens all may be at risk for exposure to blood-borne pathogens.

In order to reduce or eliminate the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens, UGA has developed programs to identify those at risk and train exposed employees about how to reduce their risk of exposure. UGA encourages the use of engineered controls whenever possible.  However, there are occasions when such controls cannot be implemented.  In those instances, personal protective measures must be used.

If an employee is exposed to blood or other potentially infected body fluids by a needle stick, a cut, splash to the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin, the exposed site should be immediately flushed with soap and clean water followed by application of a disinfectant if available and appropriate.  The incident must be reported as soon as possible and the injured employee must seek medical attention.

The Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Safety (IHOS) staff can schedule and provide training for employees who may be concerned that they are at risk and, if so, to help them learn how to address those concerns and risks.  IHOS can also train employees and supervisors about what actions to take should an exposure occur.

Call the IHOS office for more information and assistance at 706-542-5801 or email ihos@uga.edu