risk at work? worried

Question

I work for sheetmetal fabricators and the paperwork that I invoice from nearly always has some smears of blood on it since thay are handling this when the handle the metal and also the truckdrivers handle this when they are delivering the sheetmetal products that are sharp.

Is there a high rish of infection with HIV or Hepatitis from the situation I describe? Most of the blood is dry by the time I get it.

Regards

Worried Worker

Answer

Good question. Bloody paperwork is never fun. Bank tellers often pose the same question. Here's a short answer; you can find more information about blood on this site and on others.

HIV is not a risk in dried blood. HIV cannot sustain exposure to oxygen.

Hepatitis B needs to be activated by moisture and have a point of entry into your bloodstream to pose any threat. If the dried blood stays dry, and you bandage any cut on your hands to protect them, then you substantially lower your risk from hepatitis B.

There are cases of hepatitis B infection from blood-smeared medical files (manila folders), for example, when the blood-smeared portion of the folder itself caused a paper cut that went untreated. Obviously, if you do get a paper cut from the papers you handle, wash the cut right away with soap and water, then bandage it. These normal precautions should be all you need. If you would be more comfortable with more detail, please address a question directly to one of the physicians at this site. Thanks for writing in.