Blood is one of the most potentially risky substances to clean up. Accidents or spills that involve blood pose significant health risks.
When cleaned improperly, blood may expose you to several bloodborne pathogens such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), and a host of other transmittable diseases.
Even at home, when you stub your toe on the diving board or your child gets a bloody nose, you will need to clean it up. Because we don’t want everyone exposed to bloodborne pathogens, proper cleanup processes are essential.
Steps during Blood Cleanup
Use the following basic blood cleaning principles for the management of blood spills:
Clean up Area
Block off the cleanup area until the cleaning work and disinfection process is complete. Following a blood spill, the area must be contained to avoid the spread of the affected area.
Create a suitable barrier around the spill using an absorbent material. Unwanted staff members or visitors should not have access to the area.
For blood spill management, use standard cleaning equipment such as a cleaning bucket, a mop, and cleaning agents.
When cleaning blood, wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) such as disposable gloves, protective eyewear, and gown, especially where there is a possibility of splashing.
Eyeglasses should not be considered as protective eyewear.
The Spill Area
In clinical settings, blood spills, including other body substance spills, should be cleaned up as soon as possible. If the spill is in an operating room or when a medical procedure is underway, it should be dealt with as soon as circumstances allow.
During the cleaning process, ensure that the following steps are met:
- Use a paper towel to wipe off most of the blood to clean the spill area
- Use gloves at all times
- Safely discard the paper towels
- Don’t use cloth towels unless you don’t intend to reuse them
After the spill area is clean, ensure the proper disposal of all contaminated PPEs and rags. Also, ensure you thoroughly clean and disinfect all other equipment used during the cleanup process. If an incident report is required, ensure that it is done immediately after any cleanup.
Use a broad spectrum registered and approved disinfectant to decontaminate all reusable equipment, such as buckets, dustpans, brooms, tongs, etc. Refer to the product label to ensure you leave the disinfectant on the contaminated surface for the recommended contact time.
If bleach is being used to disinfect, ensure the surface remains wet for a minimum of 10 minutes.
In case of an injury during the cleanup process, immediately seek medical attention. An example of an injury is a skin puncture by a sharp blood-contaminated object. Report any injury in a workplace to the occupational health and safety department or representative.
The Red Responders team has systems in place for handling substance spills in accordance with OSHA regulations that address the cleaning of biohazardous substances. The OSHA regulations stipulate the mandated conditions that businesses must meet to be compliant, such as bloodborne training.