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Use SAFER methods for fewer exposures 

Occupational exposure to blood and body fluids (BBF) is a serious concern for healthcare workers. These exposures present a major risk for transmitting infectious disease, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Every year, an estimated one out of 10 U.S. healthcare workers suffers a BBF splash, needle stick or sharps injury.

Yale New Haven Health’s employee safety specialists remind everyone to use SAFER practice methods to reduce BBF exposures:

- Select the correct equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce splash and sharps exposure.
- Ask clarifying questions if you are unfamiliar with the equipment or have a question about its use.
- Focus on the task at hand; use the attention to detail and situational awareness HRO behaviors.
- Execute the task carefully and correctly. If there is a safety on the device, engage the safety correctly.
- Remove the sharp immediately and dispose of it properly. 

“A common theme we discover when investigating splashes is that the employee might not have anticipated a splash and, therefore, was not wearing eye protection,” said Brian Rego, Yale New Haven Hospital employee safety specialist. “Remember, splashes can occur during procedures which are not commonly thought to be splash prone, like point-of-care testing and management of IV and other lines.”

YNHHS has a non-retaliatory policy when employees report an exposure. The “No Blame, No Shame” policy encourages staff to report exposures using a simple process on employee self-service (ESS). Once an incidence is reported, an employee safety specialist investigates to understand the cause of the exposure and works with the employee to develop an action plan to help avoid future exposures. 

“The overarching theme is to promote a culture of safety,” Rego said. “That’s not just a slogan; it’s a practice embraced by our health system.”