For some jobs, the question is not “what if someone is going to bleed—” but more of “when is it going to happen?” Misuse of hand or power tools (like screwdrivers or nail guns) is one of the usual reasons behind these kinds of injuries at work. While these injuries are almost common on the job, they cannot be taken lightly. Whether you’re dealing with your own blood or helping clean up someone else’s wound, there are universal precautions that must be taken to ensure that everyone in the area is safe.
It is possible that there are different infections in a person’s blood or bodily fluid. Some of those infections or diseases can even be life-threatening, such as HIV or Hepatitis. People with these diseases or conditions often show no outward signs or symptoms that something is wrong. Because of these risks, it is important that people know the proper way to handle blood-related injuries at work. The Center for Disease Control has outlined procedures to guide people when bodily fluid or blood spills occur:
- If possible, use sawdust or other absorbent materials to cover the spills so that blood and body fluids will not spread when helping someone who is bleeding. Sometimes, even the smallest wound can bleed a lot—and sometimes, medication causes people to bleed more than usual.
- Vinyl or latex gloves should be worn. All spills should be cleaned up using towels, soap, and water. When there is no time to put gloves on, it is imperative that the helper doesn’t touch the blood or the body fluids of the person who has been injured.
- All surfaces that have been in contact with the bodily fluids should be wiped with a disinfectant. Be careful about using bleach or diluted bleach with any other chemical in the area—because this can result to a gaseous chemical reaction with harmful side effects.
- When removing gloves, ensure that your hands don’t come in contact with the fluids. Wash hands thoroughly with soap. If the gloves are reusable, wash them with soap, too—both inside and outside.
- If the person responsible for cleaning the fluids has any open wounds, extra care must be taken to keep his or her own wound away from the blood or fluids on the floor or other surfaces.
- Should an exposure to the fluids and blood occur, your hands must be washed and scrubbed for at least 15 seconds with soap and water.
- A blood and bodily fluid kit should be on hand and/or taken to job sites. It should include:
o Absorbent floor-sweeping material
o Liquid soap
o Vinyl or latex gloves
o Disposable towels or tissues
o Heavy plastic bags
All parts of this kit should be kept together in a central location—or in a plastic tub if it must be taken to a job site.
Working on a construction site puts people at risk of different kinds of injuries. Don’t make those injuries worse by recklessly exposing yourself to the dangers of blood and bodily fluids when helping someone else.