Accidents happen — especially when the job you do involves powerful machinery and tools that cut, grind and punch into other materials. When those accidents happen, it isn’t unusual for a significant amount of blood to end up on the floor, walls, machinery and tools. A simple scalp laceration, for example, can bleed quite heavily, creating a mess that has to be cleaned up afterwards — and a real risk of exposure for other employees to blood-borne pathogens like hepatitis or HIV.
What can be done to address this very real risk?
1. Everyone who works at a construction site should be aware how dangerous exposure to blood can be. There are a lot of rumors and popular misconceptions about how long a virus or other pathogen can stay alive outside of the human body. For example, most people don’t realize that some pathogens can stay active up to two weeks after blood has dried.
2. The regular construction crew should never be tasked with cleaning up the blood from an accident unless they have both the proper training and the proper personal safety equipment. The same goes for the regular janitorial staff, if there is one. It takes special procedures to thoroughly sanitize an area contaminated by blood. It’s wisest to hire a company that specializes in hazardous cleanups.
3. Per the recommendations given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), any employee exposed to blood either during or after the accident should receive counseling about the possibility of blood-borne pathogens and prompt vaccination for hepatitis B.
4. If an employee was exposed to the blood during the accident through his or her mouth, eyes, nose or an open wound (even something like a scratch on the hand), the employee should be given an appropriate evaluation and follow-up testing and care.
All testing, inoculations, and time spent away from work for education, counseling or treatment should be covered by the employer or the employer’s insurance — never the employee. Exposure to blood during or after an accident is no less a work-related injury than exposure to a hazardous chemical. If you’re having trouble getting appropriate care or compensation after your exposure to blood during an accident on a construction site, talk to an attorney today.
Source: Aftermath, “How to Clean up the Scene of a Construction Accident,” accessed July 24, 2017