The Centers for Disease Control state that HBV can survive for at least one week in dried blood on surfaces so it’s very important to clean and sanitize properly. Contaminated work surfaces must be decontaminated with a disinfectant following an emergency incident. Take into consideration the appropriate methods of decontamination based upon the location within the facility, type of surface, types of contamination, if any, and tasks or procedures being performed.

Decontamination procedures

Clean up and decontamination must be done with appropriate disinfectants which include diluted bleach solutions and EPA-registered tuberculocides (List B), sterilants (List A), or products registered against HIV/HBV(List D). The lists of these EPA registered products are available from the National Antimicrobial Information Network at (800) 447-6349 or its website at ( OSHA allows the use of these products provided the surfaces have not become contaminated with agents, volumes, or concentrations for which higher level disinfection is recommended.

Follow the label instructions regarding the amount of disinfectant and the length of time it must remain wet on the surface. For employees who will be responsible to clean up following a bloodborne pathogens related incident, training must include the proper use of the disinfectant.

Fresh solutions of diluted household bleach are also considered appropriate for disinfection of environmental surfaces and for decontamination of sites following initial wiping up of blood or other potentially infectious materials. Contact time for bleach is generally considered to be the time it takes the product to air dry.

Solutions of bleach should not be stored in glass containers, but in material such as the plastic in which the bleach, the consumer product, is packaged in. Household bleach (5.25 sodium hypochlorite) diluted to the appropriate strength for the clean up job at hand is also an effective disinfectant. In addition, gross contamination must be cleaned up first with a soap and water solution, to ensure the disinfectant is completely effective.

Work surfaces and containers

All equipment and working surfaces that could have become contaminated must be cleaned and decontaminated as necessary. If thorough decontamination cannot be done immediately, a label must be attached to equipment stating which portions of the equipment remain contaminated to inform downstream servicing/repair employees of the hazard and precautions they need to take.

All coverings used for protecting working surfaces should be removed and replaced as soon as possible after they have been contaminated. All bins, pails, cans, and similar reusable receptacles must be decontaminated on a regularly scheduled basis and cleaned and decontaminated immediately or as soon as possible after visible contamination.

Sharp objects

Broken glassware, which may be contaminated, must be picked up only by using mechanical means such as tongs, brush and dust pan, or forceps—never with bare or gloved hands. Contaminated reusable items, such as sharps, may not be stored or processed in a way that requires employees to reach into containers where the contents cannot be seen or safely handled.

Contaminated laundry

Contaminated laundry that has been contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials should be handled as little as possible with a minimum of agitation. Protective gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment should be used when handling these materials. Contaminated laundry must be placed and transported in bags or containers which prevent soak-through or leakage and properly labeled according to the BBP labeling requirements.

When a facility exercises universal precautions when handling soiled laundry, alternative labeling or colorcoding is sufficient if it permits all employees to recognize the containers as requiring compliance with universal precautions. Employees should not take contaminated clothing or protective equipment home to launder. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide, launder, repair, replace, and dispose of such materials.

Regulated waste

Regulated waste must be placed in closeable, leak-proof containers built to contain all contents during handling, storing, transporting, or shipping and labeled appropriately. Regulated waste is defined as:

  • Liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials;

  • Contaminated items that would release blood or other potentially infectious materials in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed;

  • Items that are caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and

  • Pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or other potentially infectious materials.

OSHA does not generally consider discarded feminine hygiene products to fall within the definition of regulated waste. These products should be discarded in waste containers which are lined in such a way as to prevent contact with the contents. OSHA notes, however, that it is the employer’s responsibility to determine which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures involve occupational exposure. For example, the employer must determine whether employees can come into contact with blood during the normal handling of such products from initial pick-up through disposal in the outgoing trash.

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