The purpose of this blog post is to provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions related to the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for the standard's requirements. Please refer to the standard for the complete text.
Methods of Control
Q1. What does OSHA mean by the term "contaminated laundry"?
A1. Contaminated laundry means laundry which has been soiled with blood or other potentially infectious materials or may contain sharps.
Q2. How should contaminated laundry be handled?
A2. Contaminated laundry shall be handled as little as possible with a minimum of agitation. Contaminated laundry shall be bagged or containerized at the location where it was used and shall not be sorted or rinsed in the location of use. Other requirements include:
- Contaminated laundry shall be placed and transported in bags or containers labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of the standard. When a facility utilizes Universal Precautions in the handling of all soiled laundry, alternative labeling or color-coding is sufficient if it permits all employees to recognize the containers as requiring compliance with Universal Precautions.
- Whenever contaminated laundry is wet and presents a reasonable likelihood of soak-through or leakage from the bag or container, the laundry shall be placed and transported in bags or containers which prevent soak-through and/or leakage of fluids to the exterior.
- The employer shall ensure that employees who have contact with contaminated laundry wear protective gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment.
- When a facility ships contaminated laundry off-site to a second facility which does not utilize Universal Precautions in the handling of all laundry, the facility generating the contaminated laundry must place such laundry in bags or containers which are labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of the standard.
Q3. Are employees allowed to take their protective equipment home and launder it?
A3. Employees are not permitted to take their protective equipment home and launder it. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide, launder, clean, repair, replace, and dispose of personal protective equipment.
Q4. Do employers have to buy a washer and dryer to clean employees' personal protective equipment?
A4. There is no OSHA requirement stipulating that employers must purchase a washer and dryer to launder protective clothing. It is an option that employers may consider. Another option is to contract out the laundering of protective clothing. Finally, employers may choose to use disposable personal protective clothing and equipment.
Q5. Are there guidelines to be followed when laundering personal protective equipment? What water temperature and detergent types are acceptable?
A5. The decontamination and laundering of protective clothing are governed by the laundry provisions of the standard in paragraph (d)(4)(iv). Washing and drying the garments should be done according to the clothing manufacturer's instructions.
HIV and HBV Research Laboratories and Production Facilities
Q1. Are academic HIV and HBV research laboratories included in the definition of a research laboratory under the standard?
A1. Academic HIV and HBV research laboratories are regarded as research laboratories under the standard. A research laboratory produces or uses research laboratory-scale amounts of HIV and HBV. Although research laboratories may not have the volume found in production facilities, they deal with solutions containing higher viral titers than those normally found in patients' blood.
Q2. Is animal blood used in research covered under the laboratory section of the standard?
A2. The standard covers animal blood only for those experimental animals purposely infected with HIV or HBV. Although the standard does not apply to animal blood unless it comes from an experimental animal infected with HIV or HBV, persons handling animals or animal blood should follow general precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institutes of Health Publication, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.
Are you concerned that your facility does not have a kit designed for OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard? This kit is designed to help in OSHA Standard Compliance (1910.1030) and combines personal protection and clean-up items mandated by OSHA, CDC, and State Health Departments to aid in the clean-up, transportation, and disposal of potentially infectious blood or body fluid spills.
The information contained is this document is not considered a substitute for any provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) or the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1030, Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens.