What you need to know about blood borne viruses in the workplace
These pages give guidance for workers in roles where they may be exposed to blood borne viruses, such as Hepatitis B and C, and HIV/AIDS.
Blood-borne viruses (BBVs) are mainly found in blood or bodily fluids. The main BBVs of concern are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV).
Those who come into contact with bodily fluids from other humans are at risk from BBVs. Particularly if their work involves sharp or abrasive implements that may break the skin (needle stick injuries). Workers that may often come into contact with used needles, or sharp objects, include
The level of risk will depend on
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus which can cause Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It can be transmitted through
There is also a risk from needle stick injuries and from blood transfusions received in resource-poor countries. It is important to note that unless contaminated with blood, minimal risk of BBV infection is carried by urine, saliva, sweat, tears, sputum, vomit and faeces.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver and this can be caused by BBVs. Two of the most common are
You can read more about BBVs in the workplace on the HSE website.
Read guidance on Blood Borne Viruses in the Workplace
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) record the number of work place blood or other high-risk body fluid exposure incidents. You can read about these in the
Eye of the Needle report (external site). The numbers are collated and reported bi-annually.
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For information on workplace health, safety and wellbeing, contact your local health board team