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Exposure Control Methods

Biohazard - Use Universal Precautions Sign.

Methods To Control The Risk Of Exposure

The recommended infection-control concept called "Universal Precautions" advocates everyone's blood and body fluids be considered potentially infectious. This eliminates the difficulty in determining risk individually.

Remember, although some bodily fluids have not been documented to transmit pathogens, it is sometimes impossible to tell if blood or another potentially infectious fluid is present.

1. The recommended infection-control concept called "Universal Precautions" advocates everyone's blood and body fluids be considered _______.

a. potentially non-infectious
b. not harmful
c. not infectious
d. potentially infectious

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Methods To Control The Risk Of Exposure (Continued)

The strategies to eliminate or reduce injuries due to exposure to bloodborne pathogens include two basic strategies: changing hazards and changing behaviors.

Hazard Controls - OROSHA
  1. Elimination. Remove the hazard.
  2. Substitution. Replace to reduce the hazard.
  3. Engineering Controls. Design to isolate the hazard.
  4. Administrative Controls. Develop programs to reduce exposure.
  5. Work Practice Controls. Develop safe methods to reduce exposure.
  6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Set up a personal barrier to reduce exposure.

Elimination and substitution controls may be impractical hazard control methods to minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens. therefore, engineering, work practice, and PPE controls are generally the most widely used methods to protect healthcare employees from exposure.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls minimize exposure in the workplace either by designing equipment to isolate the hazard, such as:

  • sharps container for needles,
  • splash guards,
  • red bags for contaminated materials, and
  • mechanical pipetting devices.

Engineering controls focus on the design of equipment to minimize exposure. The Sharps container for needles is a good example of an engineering control that is widely used. Healthcare employers need to examine and maintain or replace engineering controls on a regularly scheduled basis.

2. Engineering controls minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens through _____.

a. employee actions
b. equipment design
c. safe procedures
d. effective practices

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Work Practice Controls

Gloved hand providing first aid for a cut finger.
Always use PPE when providing first aid care.

Work practice controls focus on the way tasks are performed to minimize exposure. For example safe work practice controls include the following:

  • using disposable gloves when performing emergency care;
  • performing actions involving potentially infectious material to minimize splattering, splashing, and spraying;
  • proper handling and disposal of needles or sharps, contaminated bandages, gauze, or linens.
  • eliminating eating, drinking, smoking, applying make-up or lip balm, or handling contact lenses in locations
  • with potentially infectious material;
  • prohibiting the wearing of artificial nails in healthcare facilities; and
  • not allowing food and drink to be kept in a refrigerator, freezer, shelf, or in the general area of where blood or other potentially infectious materials are kept.

3. Which of the following is considered a safe work practice control?

a. Eliminating the use of toxic cleaning products
b. Conducting training for all employees using sharps
c. Using proper gloves when performing emergency care
d. Replacing a toxic substance with a non-toxic substance

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Hand washing after an exposure can reduce your risk of infection.

Wash your hands!

Hand washing after an exposure can reduce your risk of infection.

Your employer must provide readily accessible hand-washing facilities or antiseptic hand cleanser or wipes if hand-washing facilities are not available. Do the following to reduce your risk of infection resulting from an exposure.

  • Perform hand washing immediately after any exposure, even if you were wearing gloves.
  • Vigorous scrubbing with soap or alcohol-based foam or gel and warm water is considered the most effective technique.

Prohibited Practices

Practices that are completely prohibited in the workplace include: bending, recapping, and removing contaminated needles, shearing or breaking needles, and mouth pipetting or suctioning of potentially infectious material.

These practices significantly increase the risk of exposure. As a result, they should never be performed by employees.

4. Bending, recapping, and removing contaminated needles are considered _____.

a. permitted practices
b. prohibited practices
c. safe work practices
d. optional work practices

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hand gel


Antiseptic hand cleaner in conjunction with clean cloth/paper towels or antiseptic towelettes are examples of acceptable alternatives to running water.

However, when these types of alternatives are used, employees must wash their hands (or other affected areas) with soap and running water as soon as feasible.

This alternative would only be acceptable at worksites where soap and running water are not feasible.

5. On which worksites is the use of alternative hand cleaners acceptable?

a. Worksites that lack soap and running water
b. All worksites under construction
c. Hospitals and healthcare clinics
d. Facilities open to the public

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Dr. Kramer owns and operates a small dental clinic in San Francisco, CA. As part of her exposure control plan, she requires her employees to wash their hands before and after working with any patients. She also requires that new gloves be used with every patient.

Is this an example of engineering controls or work practice controls?

Work practice controls.

Dr. Kramer is requiring her employees to do something to reduce the risk of occupational exposure. Work practice controls focus on the actions taken to minimize exposure.

6. Work practice controls focus on the _____.

a. control of exposure using disinfectants
b. appropriate administration of discipline
c. effective design of equipment
d. actions taken to minimize exposure

Check your Work

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