Posted on: 14 April 2015Share
Blood might look like just a thick, red liquid, but it's actually a body tissue comprised of many tiny cells. Not all of these cells are necessarily of human origin. Some may be bacteria or viral particles that can cause disease if you come into contact with them. Thus, if a customer becomes injured in your place of business and blood ends up on a surface, it's essential that you are aware of the risks it presents and how to clean it up properly. Even if it's just a few drops of blood, dealing with the problem in a safe manner is essential.
Common Diseases Transmitted Through Blood
There are hundreds of diseases that can be passed through the blood. if the person who was bleeding was infected with Staphylococcus bacteria, you could contract this bacteria from the blood and develop a staph infection on your skin. Similarly, you could become infected with a number of parasites, including those that cause malaria or babeseosis, if the bleeding person happened to be carrying these organisms. Perhaps the most concerning diseases that can be passed from person to person through the blood, however, are these three:
People infected with hepatitis B carry the viral particles that cause the disease in their blood. If you come into contact with contaminated blood, you could develop this serious condition yourself. Hepatitis B causes mild illness in some, but severe, chronic liver failure in others. In the United States, most people are vaccinated for hepatitis B as children. However, vaccines are never 100% effective, so even if you were vaccinated, there is a chance you could contract the disease.
Hepatitis C is another liver disease caused by a different virus from the one that causes hepatitis B. This is the more severe of the two illnesses, as about 75 - 85% of people who catch it end up suffering from severe, chronic liver failure. There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C, and more than 3.2 million people in the United States are infected. Thus, it's vitally important to avoid contact with spilled blood, since it may contain the hepatitis C virus.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is best known as a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be spread through the blood, too. Even if you think you're certain that the person whose blood was spilled is HIV negative, you can never be too careful. Some people are infected with HIV for several years before they are diagnosed, since symptoms don't usually set in immediately. Once symptoms do appear, they include weakness, fatigue, and frequent illness. Drugs to manage the condition are available, but they often have unpleasant side effects.
How to Clean Up Blood Spills Safely
The two primary concerns when cleaning up a blood spill are to avoid any skin contact with the blood, and to fully remove the blood from the surface so no one else comes into contact with it. Secure the area where the blood spill occurred, or have another employee direct traffic away from the spill area. In the case of a small spill, you can perform the cleanup yourself by following these instructions:
Put on a clean pair of disposable gloves. Absorb as much of the blood as possible with some absorbent, disposable cloths. Place the dirty cloths in a bag, and seal the bag completely with tape.
Once most of the blood has been removed from the surface, pour a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water over the area. Let the bleach sit for 20 minutes to ensure it kills all of the bacterial, viral, and parasitic species present. Soak the bleach up with additional disposable cloths, and place them in a garbage bag.
Remove your gloves, being careful not to touch the outsides of them with your bare hands. Place them in the garbage bag along with the bleached cloths. Carefully gather everything into one large bag and tie it closed. If you happen to have a biohazard container on the premises, place the waste inside. Otherwise, drive to a local pharmacy -- they generally have one on hand and should allow you to place your waste inside.
If the blood spill is large and you have doubts about your ability to clean it properly, do not put yourself at risk by trying. Block off the area so no one else comes into contact with the blood, and call a professional biohazard clean up team. They are trained to safely deal with large blood spills in a way that's safe for everyone involved.