Workers can be at risk of being exposed to blood borne pathogens such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines and standards that apply to blood borne pathogens and blood spill cleanup of the contaminated area. According to the CDC, hepatitis B virus can survive for at least one week in dried blood. The virus may survive on environmental surfaces, contaminated needles and/or instruments.
The medical profession, Environment Protection Agency (EFP) and the National Institute of Decontamination Specialists (NIDS) have developed procedures to assure the safety of workers and the public at large. The exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose serious health consequences. It is important to the safety and successful removal of biohazards that they are disposed of properly according to OSHA and other regulatory agencies.
In order to remove, inactivate or destroy blood borne pathogens on a surface or item there must be physical or chemical removal so that they can no longer transmit infectious particles and the surface will be rendered safe for handling.
Regulated waste includes blood, items that may be caked in dried blood, contaminated sharps or other pathological waste that contains blood and is potentially infectious.
It is important to use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved guidelines when performing a blood spill cleanup that include the following:
- PPE Personal protective equipment
- Bleach and water
- EPA registered disinfectants
- Autoclavable biohazard bag
During a blood spill cleanup all blood must be cleaned thoroughly before applying the disinfectant and infectious waste must be disposed of according to federal, state and local regulations. The surface should be left wet with disinfectant for 30 seconds HIV-1 and 10 minutes for HBV.
Appropriate and approved disinfectants are determined by the EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA oversees the registration of anti-microbial products. A list of the most recent anti-microbials is produced by the Office of Pesticide Programs. Appropriate disinfectants are important because they need to be able to decontaminate point of contamination when performing a blood spill cleanup.
OSHA requires work surfaces be cleaned with an appropriate disinfectant when performing blood spill cleanup. There is an approved list of EPA registered antimicrobial products such as tuberculocides and sterilants for equipment sterilization. All equipment and work surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and then decontaminated if they are significantly contaminated.
Fresh solutions of diluted bleach made up every 24 hours are appropriate for disinfection and decontamination for some biohazards. Don’t attempt cleanup or touch items that may be contaminated with bodily fluids. Consult your local health department for instructions when attempting to perform a blood spill cleanup.