Blood borne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention

What are blood borne pathogens? 

Blood borne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needlesticks

and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to blood borne pathogens. Workers in many occupations, including first responders, housekeeping personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel, all may be at risk for exposure to blood borne pathogens. 

What can be done to control exposure to blood borne pathogens? 

In order to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens, an employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an 

employer will use engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, employee training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, . Engineering controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimising employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices, such as needleless devices, shielded needle devices, and plastic capillary tubes. 

Needlestick and Sharps Injury Prevention. 

● Safe handling of needles and other sharp devices are components of standard precautions that are implemented to prevent health care workers exposure to blood borne pathogens. 

The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act mandates the use of sharps with engineered safety devices when suitable devices exist

● Used needles should be discarded immediately after use and not recapped, bent, cut, removed from the syringe or tube holder, or otherwise manipulated.

● Any used needles, lancets, or other contaminated sharps should be placed in a leak-proof, puncture-resistant sharps container that is labelled with a biohazard label. 

● Do not overfill sharps containers. 

● Discard after 2/3 full or when contents are at the full line indicated on the containers. 

● Used sharps containers may be taken to a collection facility such as an area pharmacy, hospital, or outsourced company that provides this service 

Waste Disposal. 

Sharp items should be disposed of in containers that are puncture resistant, leak-proof, closable, and labelled with the biohazard symbol or are red in colour. Sharps containers should be replaced when filled up to the indicated full line. Items generated by local public health agencies that should be discarded into sharps containers include contaminated items that may easily cause cuts or punctures in the skin (used needles, lancets, broken glass or rigid plastic vials) and unused needles and lancets that are being discarded. Syringes or blood collection tube holders attached to needles must also be discarded still attached to the needles. 

● Non-sharp disposable items saturated with blood or body fluids (i.e., fluid can be poured or squeezed from the item or fluid is flaking or dripping from the item) should be discarded into biohazard bags that are puncture-resistant, leak-proof, and labelled with a biohazard symbol or red in colour. Such items may include used PPE and disposable rags or cloths. 

A local public health agency that generates infectious waste is required to maintain a log of waste that is transported from the agency, regardless of the amount or how it is transported. The log must contain the following information: date of disposal, location to which waste is transported, name of person transporting the waste, and the amount and type of waste transported (e.g., three sharps containers or five biohazard bags). Care must be taken to contain the waste during transport, keep waste separate from clean items in the transport vehicle, and to clean and disinfect areas of the vehicle containing infectious waste before hauling clean items and materials. 

Safe Injection Practices 

● Use of a new needle and syringe every time a medication vial is accessed  

● Use of a new needle and syringe with each injection of a client

● Using medication vials for one client only, whenever possible

● Safe injection practices packet 

Hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of infection. 

Hand decontamination has a dual role to protect both the patient and the practitioner from acquiring microorganisms (germs) which may cause them harm. Hands may look clean but invisible micro-organisms are always present, some harmful, some not. Removal of microorganisms is the most important factor in preventing them from being transferred to other people.

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