Blood-borne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needle sticks and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to blood-borne pathogens.
Environments that are most exposed are healthcare settings within others in the general public. Working in retail brings you in contact with the general public and can also put you at risk for being exposed including contracting blood-borne diseases in the workplace if proper prevention measures aren’t taken.
The sight of someone’s blood alone doesn’t tell you if they’re infected. You must therefore exercise “universal precautions,” which means treating all blood and blood-containing materials as though they do actually contain blood-borne pathogens.
- regular hand washing
- wearing protective clothing such as latex gloves when dealing with an injured person
- avoid poking yourself with the needle from tagging guns and being careful with box knives and cleaning up broken glass so that no blood is drawn.
- take care if handing garbage bags to ensure no sharp objects are protruding from the bag.
If your workplace has the potential of finding needles, Washington Retail has archived a Labor & Industries’ presentation about the topic that you can view here.
WR employs Rick Means as Director of Safety & Education who is available to help members draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected]