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Responding to an exposure incident
  • After an exposure incident, an exposed employee should wash exposed areas, seek medical attention, and report the incident.
  • Employees who witness incidents should call for help and not assist unless they’re trained responders.

The appropriate course of action after an exposure incident depends on the person’s relationship to the incident and level of training.

An exposed person

An employee who suffers an exposure incident should take the following actions:

  • Remove any clothing or shoes contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) and place them in a biohazard bag or container;
  • Minimize the exposure by immediately flooding the exposed area — most likely the hands — with water, then thoroughly washing affected skin with soap and water;
  • Flush any splashes to the nose and mouth with water;
  • Irrigate the eyes with water or saline if they were exposed to blood or OPIM;
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible; and
  • Report the incident to a supervisor.

Immediately reporting exposure incidents allows for timely medical evaluation and follow-up, testing of the source person’s blood, and exploring measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Employers must treat reports in the strictest confidence.

A witness to the incident

An employee who witnesses an exposure incident should take the following actions:

  • Use universal precautions and treat all blood and OPIM as if it’s known to be infectious.
  • Call for help. Employees should have ready access to information about which employees are trained and equipped to respond properly, and/or how to contact services outside the company.
  • Resist offering assistance without the proper training or personal protective equipment (PPE), and discourage coworkers from doing so.

A trained responder

An employee who is a designated and trained responder or cleanup person should take the following actions:

  • Use appropriate PPE;
  • Follow safe work practices;
  • Use proper cleanup, disposal, and labeling procedures; and
  • Recognize biohazard markings.