Housekeeping | Bloodborne Pathogens

Q. What type of disinfectant can be used to decontaminate equipment or working surfaces which have come in contact with blood or OPIM?

A. EPA registered tuberculocidal disinfectants are appropriate for the cleaning of blood or OPIM. A solution of 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite, (household bleach), diluted between 1:10 and 1:100 with water, is also acceptable for cleaning contaminated surfaces.

Quaternary ammonium products are appropriate for use in general housekeeping procedures that do not involve the cleanup of contaminated items or surfaces.

The particular disinfectant used, as well as the frequency with which it is used, will depend upon the circumstances in which a given housekeeping task occurs (i.e., location within the facility, type of surface to be cleaned, type of soil present, and tasks and procedures being performed). The employers written schedule for cleaning and decontamination should identify such specifics on a task-by-task basis.

Regulated waste

Q. What does OSHA mean by the term “regulated waste”?

A. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard uses the term, “regulated waste,” to refer to the following categories of waste which require special handling at a minimum: (1) liquid or semi-liquid blood or OPIM; (2) items contaminated with blood or OPIM and which would release these substances in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; (3) items that are caked with dried blood or OPIM and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; (4) contaminated sharps; and (5) pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or OPIM.

Q. Are feminine hygiene products considered regulated waste?

A. OSHA does not generally consider discarded feminine hygiene products, used to absorb menstrual flow, to fall within the definition of regulated waste. The intended function of products such as sanitary napkins is to absorb and contain blood. The absorbent material of which they are composed would, under most circumstances, prevent the release of liquid or semi-liquid blood or the flaking off of dried blood.

OSHA expects these products to be discarded into waste containers which are properly lined with plastic or wax paper bags. Such bags should protect the employees from physical contact with the contents.

At the same time, it is the employers responsibility to determine the existence of regulated waste. This determination is not based on actual volume of blood, but rather on the potential to release blood, (e.g., when compacted in the waste container). If OSHA determines, on a case-by-case basis, that sufficient evidence of regulated waste exists, either through observation, (e.g., a pool of liquid in the bottom of a container, dried blood flaking off during handling), or based on employee interviews, citations may be issued.

Q. How do I dispose of waste?

A. Regulated waste shall be placed in containers which are:

  • Closable;

  • Constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport or shipping;

  • Labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of the standard; and

  • Closed prior to removal to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping.

If outside contamination of the regulated waste container occurs, it shall be placed in a second container. The second container shall be:

  • Closable;

  • Constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport, or shipping;

  • Labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of the standard; and

  • Closed prior to removal to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping.

Disposal of all regulated waste shall be in accordance with applicable regulations of the United States, states and territories, and political subdivisions of states and territories.


Ann said...

"Sanitary" napkin disposal units are one of the most contaminated fixtures in a restroom and the risk of contact with blood soaked feminine care products is overlooked. These units are dirty and streaked with blood and rarely if ever disinfected.

Restroom users and custodial workers are exposed daily to possible blood borne pathogens which are present in menstrual blood on sanitary pads, tampons and panty liner, with only minimal precautions available to protect them. Both hepatitis B and C are extremely hardy; and may survive outside the body for several days, even on a dry surface, and still be infectious.

Since it is impossible to identify infected individuals before they use the restrooms, facility management should follow standard precautions and insist staff treat all blood and bodily fluids, including menstrual products, as if they are infected and potentially harmful.
For example, the Hepatitis Foundation International recommends that bloodstained material such as tampons and menstrual pads be placed into sealable plastic bags before disposing of them in waste receptacles.

OSHA expects the disposal units to be lined but this needs to be a mandate...not an expectation!! Additionally, the commonly used brown paper bags do not hold their form to line the receptacle, and soiled products pile up outside of the bag. Custodial staff must reach their hands into the unit to pull out bloody products. OSHA needs to add to the mandate that the liner must be effective in totally concealing the contents and covering the inside surface. And during routine inspections-how about lifting the lid of these disposal units to see what's inside and give some citations!!

In a recent article, a contract cleaner is quoted,“Even OSHA does not significantly address this issue, although it clearly is a blood and body fluid of concern and a common blood-contact opportunity. Used feminine hygiene products present a health concern for the custodians and others who have contact with the receptacle before it is disinfected, assuming that it ever is. This is an area demanding more attention and some advances in disposal technology.”

Check out And there are more photos worst than that!

luvbug said...

Very well put, I'm a janitor and we just had our yearly safty refresher class and I addressed this issue with the safty cordinator and she said there is no standard for this issue. I am also concerned about the potential hazzard these disposal boxes can cause as I have seen them overflowing and not all woman are curtious i n how the dispose of these products, I fin many take them off an just set them inside not taking the time to wrap them in some toilet paper and at least taking a bag out of the container and putting your used product in it and the rilling it closed and throwing it into a trash can. This issue really needs to be addressed more seriously with OSHA, cause not every janitor takes the time to orotect themselves against the potential danger cleaning this type of area up as they should, especially if under time restrictions and heavy work loads. And they are taught that this is NOT a hazardous area to clean.

Anonymous said...

My employer has jumped to the idea that open waste containers for any waste is a good idea. We adopted this program as a part of our environmental management policy to sort items for recycle. The problem with this is that the trash containers in the bathrooms are open plastic bags with no way of containing bodily fluids. The same with the food waste are receptacles on the floor. We have no way of disposing of feminine waste products in our bathrooms except in those open bags. I work for Chrysler at the Indiana Transmission Plant 1. We are suppose to be a benchmarking plant for many ideas including our way of producing auto parts but the concept of environmental management by using waste containers for food and bodily fluid waste is dangerous. At flu season we get uncontrolled numbers of people vomiting in these containers and they are never picked up daily. They are picked up after sitting stuffed for several days. My neighbor worked at this plant also and he died from hepatitis C last year. He was 53. What do you do when your employer is not listening?

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