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Bloodborne Pathogens: When an Accident Happens

Suddenly you're faced with an accident on the job. Should you call for emergency help? Should you help the hurt person yourself? With a quick study of the situation, you can decide how best to handle it. Before you help, take the right steps to protect yourself and others from infection from bloodborne pathogens. These are disease-causing germs carried in blood or other body fluids.

Step 1. Check it out

  • Before helping the hurt person, try to find out if the injury is life-threatening.

  • If the injury looks life-threatening, call 911 or other emergency service before you do anything else.

  • For head and spine injuries, do not move the person until medical assistance arrives on the scene.

  • Don't panic. You'll be much more helpful if you stay calm.

Step 2. Protect yourself

When helping a hurt person, protect your hands, mouth, eyes, or any part of your body that might come in contact with the person's blood or body fluids. Follow these guidelines:

  • Use a barrier against blood and body fluid, such as protective gloves, when helping a hurt person.

  • If you have cuts or open wounds or healing sores on your hands, you should cover them with a bandage as additional protection before putting on gloves.

  • Inspect the gloves thoroughly before putting them on to check for any holes or tears.

  • While helping the injured person, if your gloves get damaged, replace them immediately

  • Remove your gloves carefully. Ensure that the outer side of the gloves does not come in contact with your bare skin.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly, after removing the gloves, as the final step.

  • If blood or body fluid could splash, wear a mask and eye protection. Wear an apron to protect your clothing.

  • If protective gloves aren't available, use some other type of barrier, such as a clean, thick cloth. If blood or body fluids start to soak through the cloth, keep adding more layers of cloth.

  • If your clothes have become contaminated with blood, remove them as soon as possible to prevent fluids from seeping through and coming in contact with your skin.

Gloved hand pulling sterile glove up to wrist of opposite hand.
Use barriers, such as gloves, to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens.

Step 3. Control or flag the area

Follow work practice controls and use materials, such as rope, flags, cones, or tape, to mark off the accident site. This will help protect others from exposure to blood or body fluids, even if it's dried.

Step 4. Make a report

Report the accident to your supervisor right away. List anyone else who witnessed or was involved in the accident in the report.

Online Medical Reviewer: Vinita Wadhawan Researcher
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
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