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Occupational Safety Procedures - Precautions

Occupational Safety Training of Catawba Valley Community College

Bloodborne Pathogens: Controls & Universal Precautions

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It is extremely important to use personal protective equipment and work practice controls to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens.

"Universal Precautions" is the name used to describe a prevention strategy in which all blood and potentially infectious materials are treated as if they are, in fact, infectious, regardless of the perceived status of the source individual. In other words, whether or not you think the blood/body fluid is infected with bloodborne pathogens, you treat it as if it is. This approach is used in all situations where exposure to blood or potentially infectious materials is possible. This also means that certain engineering and work practice controls shall always be utilized in situations where exposure may occur.

Universal precautions are intended to supplement rather than replace recommendations for routine infection control. Routine infection control includes practices such as frequent thorough hand washing. Because specifying the types of barriers needed for every possible clinical or housekeeping situation is impractical, common sense and shall be exercised by all employees when accomplishing their daily tasks.


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disposable gloves

Probably the first thing to do in any situation where you may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens is to ensure you are wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, you may have noticed that emergency medical personnel, doctors, nurses, dentists, dental assistants, and other health care professionals always wear latex or protective gloves. This is a simple precaution they take in order to prevent blood or potentially infectious body fluids from coming in contact with their skin. To protect yourself, it is essential to have a barrier between you and the potentially infectious material.

Catawba Valley Community College shall provide appropriate PPE for use by Category I and Category II employees (exposure risks). PPE and Body Fluid Spill Kits shall be located in all Janitorial Closets and in most departments.

Rules to follow:

  • Always wear personal protective equipment in exposure situations
  • Remove PPE that is torn or punctured, or has lost its ability to function as a barrier to bloodborne pathogens
  • Replace PPE that is torn or punctured
  • Remove PPE before leaving the work area

If you work in an area with routine exposure to blood or potentially infectious materials, the necessary PPE should be readily accessible. Contaminated gloves, clothing, PPE, or other materials should be placed in appropriately labeled bags or containers until it is disposed of, decontaminated, or laundered. It is important to find out where these bags or containers are located in your area before beginning your work.

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