A Closer Look at Bloodborne Pathogens and Occupational Health

Bloodborne pathogens are a group of diseases that are transmitted through blood, bodily fluids, or infected materials. The risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens is greatest in certain occupations, such as healthcare providers and medical technicians. It is important that employees who work with blood and bodily fluids take precautions to protect themselves against infection.

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are any microorganism that can be transmitted in the blood, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV. Exposure to these pathogens occurs when an infected person's bodily fluids come into contact with another person's mucous membranes or open wounds. The most common way people are exposed to bloodborne pathogens is through needle sticks or other accidents involving sharp instruments used for medical procedures such as injections or surgery. Other ways you may be exposed include:

  • Working in healthcare settings where sharp instruments are present
  • Sharing needles for drug use

Bloodborne pathogens are divided into two groups based on how they cause disease: viruses and bacteria/parasites. Viruses include hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Bacteria/parasites include syphilis, leprosy, and tuberculosis

Why are they important?

Bloodborne pathogens are any of a number of diseases that can be transmitted through the exchange of blood or other body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 million people are infected with bloodborne pathogens each year, resulting in an average of 816 deaths.

The most common way these diseases are transmitted is via direct contact with infected individuals, such as when someone who has been injured uses your first aid kit or when you accidentally prick yourself with a needle left lying around on the job site. In order to protect yourself against the risk posed by these microbes, it's important to understand how they're transmitted so you know what precautions need to be taken when working around them--and why requires employers take measures to protect their employees from exposure!

The risks of working with bloodborne pathogens.

The risk of infection depends on the type of exposure. For example, there is a greater risk in cases where an employee is splashed with blood or sneezed on than there would be if he were simply working with a needle that had been used to draw blood from a patient.

In addition, the amount of blood involved also plays a role in determining whether or not you will become infected by any pathogens present in it. If someone has only one drop of his own blood on his hands and then touches your skin, there's no need for concern; however, if he has large amounts on his hands (for example after performing surgery) then this could lead to an increased risk for transmission because there would be more virus particles present in each particle compared with just one drop alone."

The immune status of both parties involved can also affect how likely transmission might occur as well as how severe symptoms might be if they do appear later down the road after exposure occurs."

How can I protect my employees from the risk of exposure?

To protect your employees from the risk of exposure, you should:

  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE). Make sure that all workers are using PPE when handling blood or other potentially infectious materials. This includes gloves and masks, as well as gowns for procedures in which splashes may occur.
  • Train your staff on how to properly use PPE and universal precautions. Employees need training so they're aware of what behaviors put them at risk for contracting an infectious disease and how to avoid those behaviors through proper use of PPE, hand washing after each patient contact and before leaving work at the end of their shift; no smoking while handling patients' specimens; avoiding sharing needles when injecting drugs; avoiding sharing food items with patients; maintaining distance between yourself and others while working with them; etcetera...

It is important to know the risks and take appropriate precautions when handling blood and bodily fluids.

It is important to know the risks and take appropriate precautions when handling blood and bodily fluids. Bloodborne pathogens are germs that can be transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluids.

Bloodborne pathogens include:

  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV). This virus causes hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver. HBV spreads from person to person through contact with infected blood or other body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, and saliva (for example, by sharing toothbrushes or razors). It may also spread from a pregnant woman to her baby during birth if she has not been vaccinated against it; this can lead to lifelong health problems for infants born with HBV infection


It is important to know the risks, take appropriate precautions and follow workplace policies when handling bloodborne pathogens. As an employer, you have a responsibility to protect your workers from exposure to these potentially deadly diseases. You can do this by educating them on safe practices and providing them with equipment such as gloves and masks that will help keep them protected from exposure.


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