Route to Safety: Back to School Supplies, Part 1

08/12/21 By Megan Malke

As summer break fades into the start of a new school year, the 2021-2022 school year will undoubtedly come along with a unique set of challenges. School leaders will need to reassess safety and readiness for the new school year. 

These plans will include evaluating and revisiting existing safety measures for everyday matters, medical emergencies, and other adverse events. Superintendents, principals, SROs, teachers, and others will also have the added complexity of how COVID-19 will continue to impact their school community’s education, health, and wellness.

While we navigate yet another uncertain school year, the team at Safetec has identified three main areas of safety to cover in K-12 schools: bloodborne pathogen response, disinfection best practices, and maintaining increased hand hygiene.

Annual Injuries on School Property

According to the National Center or Education Statistics, About 56.4 million students are projected to attend elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States. In addition, over 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities. Playground, sports, and bicycle-related injuries occur most often among children between ages 5 and 14.

The above statistics do not even account for injuries such as cuts, falls, and other non-sports-related injuries. However, school professionals must plan a safe response to children in need in today’s environment. Whether in the classroom, on a playing field, or on a school bus, all school employees must know the potential danger of bloodborne pathogens and be prepared with a safe response.

Bloodborne Pathogens in Schools

OSHA has developed a standard to protect anyone who can reasonably anticipate contact with blood or potentially infectious body fluids while at work. While not every school employee is occupationally exposed to bloodborne pathogens, every school employee must understand the dangers of infection and safe practices to minimize risk. 

Workplace Transmission

Knowing how these pathogens are transmitted can be your first line of defense from infection. HBV, HCV, HIV, and other pathogens may be present in blood and other materials, such as body fluids containing visible blood, other body fluids, and torn or loose skin.

Standard Precautions

Most approaches to infection control are based on the concept of Standard Precautions: treating all blood and body fluids as if they were potentially infectious. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell who is infected with HBV, HCV, or HIV simply by appearances. Many people who carry infectious diseases have no visible symptoms and no knowledge of their condition. 

Reducing the Risk

Reducing your risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens means you need to do more than wear gloves. To protect yourself effectively, use: 

• Personal Protection Equipment

Latex gloves, gowns, face shield or eye protection, and a face mask

• Housekeeping

Housekeeping refers to methods for cleaning and decontaminating infected surfaces and disposal of blood and body fluids. All decontamination must include the use of an appropriate disinfecting solution. 

• Hand Hygiene

Handwashing keeps you from transferring contamination from your hands to other parts of your body or other surfaces you may contact later. Where handwashing facilities are not available, such as a school bus, your employer will provide an antiseptic hand cleanser or towelettes.

Prepackaged Bloodborne Pathogen Response Kits

School leaders may provide bloodborne pathogen response kits as an effective way to deal with injuries and reduce the threat of bloodborne pathogens. 

Safetec of America offers a full line of emergency response kits that will help school facilities and school buses meet the OSHA Compliance Standard by combining personal protection and cleanup items mandated by OSHA, CDC, and State Health Departments. Safetec spill kits are also available to private label. To view Safetec’s line of emergency response kits, click here.