First responders and possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens

With the exception of those in the construction industry, many employers implement a control plan for workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens.

First responders are among those at risk for exposure to the Hepatitis B virus and other bloodborne pathogens, and, if infected, seek workers’ compensation coverage.

Common occupational illnesses

Depending on the type of workplace environment that exists, there are various occupational illnesses and conditions that may qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. Included are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asbestosis, radiation illness, lead poisoning, neurological disorders and Hepatitis B virus (HBV).

About HBV

Defined as a pathogenic microorganism, HBV transmits through infectious substances such as blood and other bodily fluids. Those who are healthcare workers or emergency responders are at risk due to their occupational exposure. The danger could rise through needle sticks, or from cuts to the skin by sharp objects contaminated with someone else’s blood. In accordance with OSHA regulations, employers must provide workers with protective equipment and put control measures in place in order to reduce the risk of exposure. In fact, the state of California has an Exposure Control Plan for Bloodborne Pathogens.

Effective defense

Workers infected with HBV must have immediate medical care. They face serious liver problems including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Some people never recover from HBV. In addition, someone infected with the virus can spread it if others come in contact with their blood or bodily fluids. Employers must provide a Hepatitis B vaccination program for workers at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. An employer should also assist any worker who becomes infected with HBV to submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The employee can also seek legal guidance to ensure the accuracy of a claim.