A bloodborne pathogen is a infectious, disease-causing microorganism that may be transferred through body fluids such as: blood, urine, saliva, semen, vaginal fluids, or sweat. Art teachers and their students can contract a variety of diseases from bloodborne pathogens in the classroom because of the everyday use of sharp instruments like x-acto knifes, needles, and razor blades. Much of the public has been educated about infectious disease because of those agencies that progressively inform young people about the AIDS epidemic. But there are many other types of diseases that are frequently spread through contact with the blood of another that students and faculty know far less about, diseases like Hepatitis B for example. Hepatitis B is an irritation and swelling of the liver due to infection caused by the hepatitis B virus or HBV. Some people are unable to get rid of this deadly virus once they have come in contact with it. If you are a person who suffers from chronic hepatitis B, this condition eventually leads to the permanent damage of the liver. Students and faculty who also work in biology labs and woodshops can potentially be exposed to contaminated surfaces because of sharp equipment in their environments as well as art educators. I’ve listed below important information necessary for the well-informed teacher concerning bloodborne pathogens in particular.
What would a teacher or student need for a medical evaluation if he or she is exposed to an infected person’s blood or saliva? The following educational resources are available to the public in order to educate people about infectious diseases and infected materials
- The CDC National AIDS Hotline in English is 1-800-342-AIDS, the Spanish Hotline is 1-800-344-7432
- The National AIDS Clearing House is 1-800-458-5231
- The American Red Cross is 202-434-4074
School personal should provide training to all persons working on their staff about the following resources:
- Resources about bloodborne pathogens and how these are spread in the workplace.
- An exposure control plan should be posted on a frequently read bulletin board or online where all teachers and staff members will be able to read it at any time.
- Labels, signs and or articles to alert teachers and students of the dangers involved in the transmission of infectious disease because of exposure to blood should be made available in every art classroom.
What should a teacher do if he believes himself to be in danger of infected blood?
- Document the incident in question.
- Identify and test the person whose blood is suspect of bloodborne pathogens if at all possible. You will need their consent to do this.
- Get counseling
- Report and evaluate any reported illness following the incident.
How can students and teachers avoid bloodborne pathogens?
- Do not share needles during sewing activities
- Do not share razor blades or x-acto knifes during art class.
- Don’t eat or drinks in areas where infectious materials may make contact with your food items.
- Do not touch, a broken needle, recap contaminated needles, razor blades, or sharp equipment such as palette knives without wearing gloves.
- Don’t clean up broken glass with bare hands. Always use a broom and dustpan to sweep up this kind of mess.
- Don’t handle the wounds of students without gloves.
- Do not drink from containers or eat left over food-stuff that another person may have drank from or eaten on with a open wound on their mouth.
- Clean up mess that may be mixed with blood using proper gloves and antibacterial cleaners. If you do not have these materials at hand wait for a janitor to clean up the waste with the proper equipment.
- Make sure that blood spills are cleaned up promptly.
- Flush exposed mouth, nose or eyes quickly and thoroughly with water.
- Cover open cuts immediately with clean bandages.
- Wash exposed skin immediately with soap and water if you touch blood.
- Minimize splashing the infected materials or the blood itself on others and on additional surfaces.
- Decontaminate surfaces quickly and thoroughly with anti-bacterial cleaning agents.