What do you picture when you hear the word “biohazard?” For most people, biohazard conjures up images of people in hazmat suits cleaning up a strange glowing green liquid. In reality, biohazards have very little to do with glowing green liquid and a lot to do with health related disease and illness. The best way to prevent the spread of illness due to biohazards is by taking specific precautions. Included here are a few things you need to know about biohazards in the workplace.
OSHA recognizes biohazards to be blood, bodily fluids, viruses, bacteria, fungus or mold. While it is commonly believed that biohazards exist only in medical practices, many of these listed can be present in any workplace. Be aware of what you are handling at work and take necessary precautions.
Treat Everything as Dangerous
A great way to avoid getting ill from a biohazard is by treating every spill or situation like it is dangerous. Never handle bodily fluid cleanups without proper protection and be sure to wash well with soap and water. Utilize the proper disposal methods, especially for bodily fluids or sharps, and notify supervisors of where the event took place.
Take Preventative Measures
The most surefire way to avoid becoming ill is to take preventative measures. This means getting Hepatitis B vaccinations, which should be paid for by your employer, as well as any other workplace relevant immunizations.
Each employee should also go through training to understand what they face on a daily basis. Individuals who work in healthcare are likely to have a good understanding, but many of the same dangers are present for law enforcement, coroners, veterinarians, property managers and many more.
Every employee should have appropriate BBE, PPE and Hazcom training each year. The workplace should also be equipped with an Exposure Control Plan. All necessary personal protective equipment and respirators should be readily available for employee utilization.
Hire Out When Necessary
It is understandable that many biohazard accidents can be outside the scope of safety for most employees. Your employer should understand when it is necessary to hire an outside source to handle the necessary clean up of a biohazard. Professional services should be able to perform state governed tests to ensure the area around a biohazard has been neutralized.
Keep in mind, improper handling of a severe biohazard spill can result in long term effects for your company and your personnel. Severe contamination could result in your property becoming a Superfund site and requiring national monitoring. You could also face bankruptcy due to legal prosecution over mismanagement. Biohazards are something that should always be taken very seriously.