Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Health care workers risk bloodborne pathogen exposure

Workers in various occupations in Minnesota risk infections caused by bloodborne pathogens. Anyone who administers first aid, or has to clean up blood or bodily fluids could risk exposure. Housekeeping staff, first responders and health care workers must never lose sight of this danger, and anyone who administers first aid to a co-worker must be educated on bloodborne pathogen hazards and how to minimize exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to establish written control plans to protect workers who risk exposure. The viruses to which workers are most commonly exposed are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Hazards include needle stick injuries, abrasions, cuts, human bites or contact with mucous membranes of infected people. It can enter the body through broken skin or ingestion.

Contact with bloodborne pathogens can be direct, such as touching blood or bodily fluids of an infected person through splashing into the face or eyes, or through broken skin. Indirect contact can occur when someone is infected while clearing away used needles or soiled gauze. For this reason, it is crucial to wear hand and facial protection whenever working in circumstances that pose risks of bloodborne pathogen exposure.

Healthcare workers and employees in other occupations in Minnesota who are infected by bloodborne pathogens might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In some cases, proving such infections to be work-related could be challenging. However, help is available. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance in pursuit of maximum benefits under applicable laws.

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