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Working with human material

Working with human material (blood, cells, tissue, autopsy materials) can cause infection of diseases like hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Norsk versjon - Arbeid med humant materiale

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Preventing infection #

The risk of being infected during work with human materials is significantly reduced by following established procedures for organisation of work, good hygiene, use of working clothes, gloves and other personal protective equipment in accordance with instructions, and by following the recommended vaccination program.

Safety #

The unit should perform risk assessments of activities that might carry risks of human injury. The unit must implement measures to remove or control the risks. Such measures may include specific procedures, use of personal protective equipment, training and vaccination.

Accidents #

Blood spills on workbenches and equipment #

Use disposable gloves. Wipe up as much blood as possible using paper towels. Clean the surface with a chlorine solution. If larger quantities of blood have been spilled: Cover the surface with paper towels and soak with dilute chlorine (1:3) or concentrated chlorine. Let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

If this procedure is practically impossible, clean thoroughly with a chlorine solution with no action time, or with a 70% disinfectant.

Dispose of paper etc. used for cleaning, other paper and blood-stained gloves in a plastic bag. Close the bag and dispose as biological material. Finally, clean with a regular cleaning agent.

Use common sense and what you know about infection pathways. Always think of the people who will be taking over for you: the cleaners at your workplace and the employees at the incineration plant.

Blood spills on humans/stick wounds #

A virus must penetrate the skin or the mucous membrane for an infection to happen. If the skin is intact, there is no danger of infection. The transmission of viruses from blood most commonly occurs through accidental contact with used needles, injuries from blood stained objects or blood spills on damaged skin, wounds or eczema.

Spills on damaged/sore skin (cracks, tears, eczema) #
  • Rinse with tepid water for 10 minutes.
  • Disinfect with a wound-cleansing agent.
Sprays on eye or mouth mucous membrane #
  • Rinse with tepid water for 10 minutes.
Needle sticks, cuts #

In case of spontaneous bleeding from the wound:

  • Squeeze gently above the wound to cause further bleeding.
  • Rinse and clean the wound well using soap and water.
  • Disinfect with a wound-cleansing agent.

In case of no spontaneous bleeding from the wound:

  • Do not squeeze.
  • Rinse and clean the wound well using soap and water. Rinse with tepid water for 10 minutes.
  • Disinfect with a wound-cleansing agent.
Follow-up if danger of blood infection #

If blood or bodily fluids from a person (the source of infection) enters the circulation of another person (the infected), there is danger of infection. The most relevant viruses that might be transmitted are hepatitis B and C, which can lead to inflammation of the liver, and HIV, which can lead to AIDS.

The chance of being infected is generally low, but it is important to examine this to make sure any infection is discovered and measures are taken. Consequently, the infected person must as quickly as possible (within 48 hours after being pricked) undergo a blood test ("nullprøve"). This blood test is conducted to make sure there is no infection after the accident.

Occupational Health Services (tel. 93 04 15 84) can provide a referral for for a blood test. If you need the referral outside of office hours, contact your general practitioner or the Emergency Department at St. Olavs Hospital. 

The results of the test could be available in 1-2 days. New tests will be conducted after 3 and 6 months to monitor any developments. The infected person will be contacted if the tests show that additional measures are required. In case of HIV infection, the HSE department will contact the Department of Infection at St. Olavs Hospital.

The infected person should not give blood or have unprotected sex before the situation is clarified.

If the source of the blood is known, the standard procedure is to take a sample from this person as well. This is voluntary, however, and the person in question can choose to refuse. If the blood test shows that the person is infected with hepatitis and the infected person does not have the vaccine, administration of antibody and vaccination might be necessary. Read about hepatitis vaccination (in Norwegian)

Based on current knowledge, the risk of being infected with hepatitis B after being pricked by a cannula containing the hepatitis B virus is 10-30%. The risk of hepatitis C is 3-5%. The risk of being infected with HIV is less that 0.3%.

Health examination and vaccine #

Persons working with human materials in a manner that facilitates infection, must attend a health examination. Fill out and bring the health examination (pdf) and the vaccine form (pdf).

Contact #

NTNU in Ålesund #

  • Stamina Helse, (phone 70 15 25 50) for assessment by a doctor and taking blood samles.
  • Outside the occupational health services working hours, contact your GP or medical watch (tel. 116 117).
    • Results of samples may be available after 1-2 days. New samples are taken after 3 and 6 months to follow the development. The infected person will be contacted if the samples show the need for following-up. 
  • For professionals: Meldeskjema for blodsmitteuhell (In Norwegian).

NTNU in Gjøvik #

  • Stamina Helse, phone 611 59 696, for assessment by a doctor and taking blood samles.
  • Outside the occupational health services working hours, contact your GP or medical watch (tel. 116 117).
    • Results of samples may be available after 1-2 days. New samples are taken after 3 and 6 months to follow the development. The infected person will be contacted if the samples show the need for following-up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

NTNU i Trondheim #

  • Occupational Health Services (phone 93 04 15 84)
  • Outside the occupational health services working hours, contact your GP or medical watch (tel. 116 117).
    • Results of samples may be available after 1-2 days. New samples are taken after 3 and 6 months to follow the development. The infected person will be contacted if the samples show the need for following-up. 

Help #

NTNU regulations #

Legislation #

Contact

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Approval/signature #

Approved by Director of HSE - August 28th 2015 - HMSR05E - ePhorte 2016/3901

Last edited 04.11.2019

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