OSHA Approved Clean up of Contaminated Sharps
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulates the proper disposal of contaminated sharp objects. Bloodborne diseases present on contaminated sharps are a hazard to those that handle them. Removal of the sharps potentially exposes workers to diseases such as HPV, HBV and HCV. Although needles are the first item that most people think of, sharps include scalpels, broken glass, capillary tubes and the exposed ends of dental wires. If any of these sharp objects have been contaminated by blood or other human fluids, OSHA requires that the cleanup procedure follow specific rules.
Due to the length of complexity of the regulations, it is often a good idea to call a professional clean up company. These companies know how to handle sharp devices. OSHA requires that mechanical devices or a one handed "scooping" technique be used for removing sharps from an area. Professional cleaners may have a mechanical device that can remove the sharp from the area or they might be trained in the proper "scooping technique."
Other OSHA regulations prevent sharps handlers from breaking or shearing sharps. Professional cleaners understand how to avoid accidentally breaking sharps. Bending, recapping and removing sharps are only allowable for specific medical and dental procedures. Professional cleaners can help companies comply with these regulations during clean-up.
Professional clean up companies also provide OSHA approved containers for storing contaminated sharps. These containers, which must be bright red in color, are also puncture-proof and leak proof. They must also be able to close to prevent liquids from spilling out of the container. Cleaning companies have processes in place to make sure that the containers are not overfilled. When removing sharps from the storage container, professional cleaning companies follow strict regulations. Workers are not allowed to stick their hands into the storage containers to remove any sharps. Professional clean up companies have processes in place to avoid these scenarios.
Some employers do have processes in place to handle routine use of sharps. For example, hospitals often have the proper disposal containers available for needles. Doctors and nurses are trained to properly dispose sharps into these containers. However, many areas that have been contaminated by sharps are not part of the routine. Suicides, murders and drug labs are an example. In these cases, there is typically no one within the building that is trained to handle any sharps that remain on the scene. In these cases, it is often a good practice to call a professional clean up company trained in the OSHA regulated handling of sharps.