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Selected Category: Bloodborne pathogens

NIOSH Research Highlights Importance of Rigorous Standards for Gowns Used to Protect Healthcare Workers

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare, Personal Protective Equipment


Recent research performed at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), with support from Nelson Laboratories, suggests that some isolation gowns do not meet the performance standards established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).

Isolation gowns are the second-most-used piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals, following gloves (Holguin, 2011). Hospital isolation gowns are worn to protect healthcare workers during procedures and patient-care activities when anticipating contact with blood, bodily fluids, secretions and excretions (Siegel, 2007). The threat of emerging infectious diseases, such as Ebola virus disease and pandemic influenza, has highlighted the need for effective PPE to protect both healthcare workers and their patients.

Protecting Workers from Ebola: Eight Knowledge Generation Priorities

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Ebola, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare, Personal Protective Equipment


On November 3, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies convened a workshop of distinguished representatives from the public and private sectors.   The participants were asked to suggest priorities for research that will “provide public health officials, healthcare providers, and the general public with the most up-to-date information about transmission, health risks, and measures that should be taken to prevent spread of [Ebola virus disease] in the U.S.” NIOSH was pleased to contribute to this dialogue, specifically by addressing issues critical for protecting heath care workers from work-related infection.

Researchers and practitioners have decades of experience related to the use of sampling, analysis, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other traditional measures for assessing exposures and minimizing the risks of occupational illness and injury in the industrial setting. That knowledge underpins standard industrial hygiene practices in factories, mines, and construction sites. Strategic research is vital for building a comparably robust base of evidence for reducing occupational risks from infectious diseases in the complex health care setting. By stimulating the knowledge needed to better meet the challenges of Ebola today, we also lay a stronger foundation for anticipating tomorrow’s potential threats from other novel infectious diseases in our 21st Century world of international commerce and rapid air travel.

How Well Do You Think You Are Protected?

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare

Understanding proper use and disposal of protective gowns for healthcare workers

The prevalence of infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, SARS and avian flu, have raised the concern of hospital personnel over the possibility of acquiring such infections. Healthcare workers (HCWs) in or outside hospitals who have contact with patients, body fluids, or specimens may easily acquire infections from or transmit infections to patients, other personnel, or loved ones. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a critical component in the hierarchy of controls used to protect HCWs from infectious hazards. HCW PPE may include gowns, respirators, face masks, gloves, eye protection, face shields, and head and shoe coverings.Even though protective ensembles are worn to protect hospital workers and patients alike, if not used or disposed of correctly, this equipment may pose a considerable risk for the public health. Although laboratory studies have produced mixed results for the effectiveness of gown use, appropriate gowns are recommended to prevent or reduce HCW exposure to bloodborne pathogens. However, those using the gowns may have limited information on the performance of the gowns they wear every day.

Does your workplace culture help protect you from hepatitis?

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare, Women

May 19, 2013, is Hepatitis Testing Day. Health care workers are at risk of contracting hepatitis B and C in the workplace. Doctors, nurses, and other staff are predominately exposed to these devastating diseases through needle sticks and other sharps injuries or when fluids from patients splash onto their eyes, nose, or mouth. Hepatitis B and C are life-changing infections, but they can be avoided in many cases. Improved processes and safer equipment are essential. The procedures and equipment used are a reflection of an organization’s safety culture.

A strong safety culture demonstrates a high level of commitment from both managers and employees to a healthy work environment.

What does your workplace do to support a safe work environment? What practices seem to be most effective? Do you do anything innovative at your organization to influence attitudes and behaviors related to safety?

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