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Bloodborne pathogens can cause permanent impairment

Paramedics, doctors and nurses are at risk for bloodborne pathogens, but they're not the only ones. One Ohio city concerned that this type of exposure may cause permanent impairment to its police officers. As part of the city's risk management program, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was asked to assess the hazards of potential needlestick injuries that could cause health care problems for cops.

The accidental skin punctures with unsterilized instruments such as syringes can occur when police officers pat down suspects who have such items hidden in their clothes. Searching vehicles and properties pose the same risks. After analyzing the city's data, NIOSH determined that nine officers have contracted hepatitis C -- of the 11 needlestick victims that were tested. None of these officers had HIV or hepatitis B.

NIOSH says an additional 37 cases that involved other forms of bloodborne pathogen exposure were checked. These included human bites, spitting and other manners of blood contact -- not from needlesticks. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulations and guidelines related to the hazards of bloodborne pathogens, Ohio state does not have an OSHA-approved safety plan. However, NIOSH recommends the city's implementation of a risk-management protocol that follows OSHA guidelines.

Victims of needlestick injuries or other exposure to bloodborne pathogens that could cause permanent impairment may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. They have every right to seek the support and guidance of an experienced Ohio workers' compensation attorney. A lawyer can assist with the navigation of the claim and do whatever is reasonably possible to achieve maximum benefits.

Source: sunnewsreport.com, "Police Officers at Risk for Exposures to Bloodborne Pathogens", Colin Fluxman, Jan. 30, 2018

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