This short quick reference guide provides guidance on bloodborne pathogen cleanup for workers and employers in general workplaces (Non-Healthcare and Non-Laboratory Settings).
Cleaning and Decontamination of Surfaces in Accordance with the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
These are general guidelines to follow when performing cleaning and disinfection in a workplace where there is a risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens.
- Immediately clean and disinfect any visible surface contamination from blood, feces, urine vomit or other body fluids.
- Isolate any areas of suspected contamination until decontamination is completed to minimize exposure to individuals who are not performing the cleanup work.
- Cover any spills with absorbent material, for example, paper towels.
- Pour disinfectant on to saturate the area, and allow bleach to soak into spills for at least thirty minutes before cleaning to allow it to kill any virus, pathogen or other infectious agents that may be present.
- Treat any visible contamination or bulk spill with a suitable disinfectant before cleaning up and removing bulk material.
- Clean and decontaminate the surface using the disinfectant.
- Ensure adequate ventilation in areas where workers are using disinfectants by opening windows and doors, or using mechanical ventilation equipment.
- In some cases, the use of chemical disinfectants may require the employer to train workers about how to protect themselves against chemical hazards and comply with OSHA´s Hazard Communication, 29 CFR 1910.1200 standard and other federal, state or city standards standards.
Use of Personal Protective Equipment for Bloodborne Pathogen Cleanup
Employers must select and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, aprons/gowns, and face-masks that will protect workers when they engage in Bloodborne Pathogen cleanup.
Workers are required to wear PPE to help minimize exposure to pathogens via the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes; or broken skin.
PPE suitable for contact-transmissible diseases including bloodborne pathogens includes:
- Nitrile Gloves – consider using double-gloves (two pairs of gloves worn over one another) for extra protection);
- Fluid resistant or fluid impermeable gowns
- Protective eyewear -such as goggles or face shields
- Face masks – that cover both the nose and the mouth.
Wearing protective sleeve, leg and footwear coverings or coveralls further reduces the risk of contact with infectious materials.
In some cases, additional respiratory protection for example, rebreathers, may be necessary to protect workers from exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens and/or disinfectant chemicals.
- Use tools from a spill kit such as tongs or forceps as much as possible rather than doing cleanup work directly with gloved hands.
- After cleaning and disinfection work is complete, remove your PPE as follows:
- Gloves, goggle or face shields
- Mask or respirator.
- Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand gel if no running water is available.
- Avoid cleaning techniques that use pressurized air or water sprays as these may result in the generation of bio-aerosols (aerosolized droplets containing bloodborne pathogen containing particles that can be inhaled).
Selection and Use of Disinfectants
- Use an EPA-registered disinfectant suitable for non-enveloped viruses for example , adenovirus, norovirus, poliovirus, to treat contamination or spills and to disinfect surfaces post bulk spill material removal. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer instructions for the specific disinfectant.
- If commercial disinfectant products are not available, common household bleach and other appropriate disinfectants may be effective alternatives in emergency situations.
- For disinfection using bleach use a 1:10 solution of bleach to water for instance, 1 cup of bleach in 9 cups of water.
- Never mix chemicals together. Certain combinations of chemicals can be deadly or can reduce the effectiveness of the disinfectant.
Guidelines For Waste Disposal
- Soak the materials and PPE used in the cleanup and decontamination in disinfectant,
- double-bag, and place in a leak-proof container to further reduce the risk of employee exposure.
- Use a puncture-proof container for sharps.
- It may be necessary to dispose of contaminated objects with porous surfaces that cannot be disinfected.
Use Of Appropriate Respiratory Protection
- In instances where workers may be exposed to bio-aerosols, for example as a result of spraying liquids or air during cleaning, suspected of or known to contain Bloodborne Pathogens, additional respiratory protection is required. In these cases, medically qualified workers must use a NIOSH-approved, fit-tested N95 respirator as the minimum standard.
- Wearing a respirator for extended periods is uncomfortable. Workers who need to wear respirators for long durations may find powered air-purifying respirators more comfortable.
- Respirators or face masks used for protecting workers against the Ebola virus may not be effective in also protecting them from exposure to certain toxic chemicals used for cleaning and decontamination.
- For more information on the requirements for selecting an appropriate respirator to protect against chemical exposure consult OSHA´s Respiratory Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, and the manufacturer Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the specific chemical(s)
See OSHA´s Respiratory Protection information page
Following Applicable OSHA Standards
- Employers must ensure that they comply with OSHA´s Bloodborne Pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, to protect workers who may be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials during bloodborne pathogen cleanup procedures.
- OSHA´s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard, 29 CFR 1910.132, provides additional information about how to select, use, and train employees in the use of appropriate PPE.
- Employers must comply with OSHA´s Hazard Communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200, when their employees use certain chemicals for cleaning and decontamination processes.
In some cases where a specific OSHA standard does not apply, the General Duty Clause (Sec. 5 (a) (1) ) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards.
OSHA Consultation Program
The OSHA On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.
Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems. To locate the OSHA On-site Consultation Program nearest you, call 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).
Further OSHA Compliance Resources
OSHA Certification Training
For employers needing to get contractors trained and compliant for bloodborne pathogen cleanup the easy way check out our OSHA compliant Bloodborne Pathogens Certification Group Training.
For individual employees or cleaning contractors you can take free bloodborne pathogen training to get your bloodborne pathogens certificate.
Note: This document is not intended to cover all OSHA standards that may apply. State Plans adopt and enforce their own occupational safety and health standards. This guidance is not training for cleanup and decontamination of Bloodborne Pathogens released as a biological weapon.
This is an informational resource highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements.