Various supplies, receptacles, labels, and more are used to ensure safety during cleanup of bodily fluids and during disposal of OPIMs. OPIMs can be considered biohazards in that they may pose a risk to others if they carry pathogens and viruses that can be transmitted to others.
Biohazard stickers and bags are helpful to warn others of potentially hazardous materials. Biohazard stickers are available from your local health department and should be placed on any container or receptacle where OPIMs are disposed. These warning labels are used for diaper containers, used needle or epi-pen containers, as well as bags that contain feces, blood, or vomit. Red bags are universally known to signify bio hazard material.
The term “sharps” refers to any item that is sharp enough to cut or puncture human skin. This can refer to syringes, capillary tubes, IV catheters, needles, dental wires, scalpels, broken glass, lancets, etc. These items are considered a biohazard risk when they are tainted with bodily fluids or blood.
Individuals who clean up classrooms and building are unfortunately cut or punctured by improperly disposed needles and other sharp materials. This puts them at a high risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Using sharps containers cuts down on this risk by a large margin. Needles and any other sharp material that has bodily fluid or blood on them must be disposed of properly in a sharps container.
How to dispose of sharp objects appropriately:
- Needles may be recapped only by using a mechanical device.
- Needles shall be disposed of in labeled sharps containers only.
- Never break or share needles.
- Needles should be moved only by using a mechanical device or tool such as forceps, pliers, or a brook and dust pan.
- Sharps containers should be closable, puncture-resistant, leak-proof on all sides and bottom, and must be labeled or color-coded.
- When sharps containers are being moved from one area to another, the containers should be closed immediately before removal or replacement to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents.
Other considerations to make about sharp material that needs to be disposed of:
- Broken glass that has been visibly contaminated with blood must be sterilized with an approved disinfectant solution before it is disturbed or cleaned up.
- Uncontaminated broken glass can be disposed of in a closable, puncture resistant container such as a cardboard box or coffee can.
- Broken glassware should not be picked up directly with hands whether it is contaminated with blood or not. Sweep or brush the material into a dustpan.
- Glassware that has been decontaminated may be disposed of in a sharps container.