When dealing with blood cleanup, a quick mop-up or a wipe of a towel just won’t cut it. Cleaning up such a fluid requires careful handling and knowledge to ensure the health and safety of the person cleaning it. Whenever you’re tasked to clean up blood and other bodily fluids, you need to know that you’re dealing with biohazards. What are biohazards you ask? These are biological substances that can cause serious health implications when they come in contact with the human body.
Blood carries pathogens which are microorganisms that can transfer diseases such as Hepatitis B, HIV, MRSA, and many more. Exposure to blood spill can potentially cause these diseases to be transferred to your body. Each blood cleanup is a unique situation that presents different challenges on how to clean it. For example, if a porous material like a carpet, wood, or clothing item becomes stained with blood, it’s best to just dispose it immediately instead of attempting to clean it. This is because porous materials are very hard to sanitize and it can be challenging to genuinely clean the affected area.
The extent of the blood spill and the number of items affected can further complicated the cleaning process. One important thing is that cleaning up blood requires thorough disinfection to effectively kill bacteria. A blood spill that’s wiped off the floor might look clean, but thousands of pathogens are still present in the area. It’s not only important to clean up blood, but to sanitize the affected areas as well.
Cleaning blood requires a step by step procedure which we will discuss in full detail below so you can avoid being contaminated with harmful diseases
Cleaning up blood: A 10-Step Procedure
For business owners and employees, it’s important to read the reference guide on bloodborne pathogens set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There are a set of standards that should be met by all business operators to comply with government regulations like employee bloodborne training for example.
Before we start the cleanup procedure, here are a couple of items you’ll need to handle minor blood spills:
- Gloves and safety goggles
- Thick cloth towels
- Registered disinfectants
- Biohazard waste bags
- Biohazard warning labels
- Leak-proof containers
- Disinfectant wipes
- Hospital-grade disinfectant
Once you’ve gathered the necessary equipment, follow these 10 steps:
1. Wear personal protective equipment. Wearing gloves are an absolute must when it comes to handling blood spills. Safety goggles are optional if there are large amounts of blood where splashing might occur. Ensure that the gloves fit snug and has no holes for blood to enter.
2. Remove any sharp objects and other foreign material. Shards of broken glass can cause skin puncture so make sure to pick it up with forceps or by brushing it with a dustpan. Avoid picking up foreign materials with your hand to prevent skin puncture. Place it inside a container before proceeding to clean up the blood spill.
3. Cover the blood spill with a thick cloth towel. Do not attempt to wipe the blood spill. This will spread pathogens and complicate the cleaning process. Cover the blood with a thick cloth and allow it to absorb. Discard the cloth towel in a biohazard bag.
4. Disinfect the area. Once the blood spill has been cleaned up, it’s time to disinfect the affected areas. Use a hospital-grade disinfectant and pour it onto the surface. Allow it to soak for 10 minutes. After that, work from the outside in to prevent spreading of pathogens. Use a cloth to scrub the affected area. Once you’re finished, dispose the cloth in a biohazard bag.
5. Repeat the process. This time, soak a fresh cloth with the disinfectant and work on the affected areas from the outside in once more. This will effectively kill all bacteria and pathogens. Make sure to dispose the cloth inside a biohazard bag to prevent contamination from other items.
6. Dispose of the waste material. Gloves, cleaning cloths, and any other items used in cleaning up the blood spill should be disposed of properly. This is to prevent the spreading of pathogens and avoid contamination. Place all of the used items inside a biohazard bag and seal it with a second bag. Use a biohazard warning label to mark the bag. For proper disposal, make sure to contact your local health department. Do not throw it in the trash can.
7. Sanitize any reusable equipment. Safety goggles, forceps, and other reusable equipment used in cleaning up the blood should be properly disinfected. Soak the items in a hospital-grade disinfectant for 10 minutes before scrubbing it with a cloth. Rinse it with water afterwards. Make sure to use fresh new gloves when doing this procedure.
8. Inspect your body for any contamination. Check your body and see if there is any contamination. Check your forearms, elbows, feet, knees, and legs for any blood spills that might be present. Wash it immediately with running water and soap. Use a disinfectant afterwards to kill off pathogens.
9. Wash your hands thoroughly. After the cleanup procedure, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and a disinfectant soap. You can opt to use disinfectant wipes after washing your hands for a secondary measure. Pay special attention to the back of your hands, in between your fingers, and your fingernails when washing your hands. Vigorous washing is essential to remove contaminants and other harmful bacteria.
10. Report the incident. File an incident report to your company immediately upon cleanup.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to safely clean up blood spills without putting your health in jeopardy.
Knowing how to properly clean up blood will help prevent the acquisition diseases and infections. It’s not enough to just clean up the mess. You have to make sure that the affected areas are fully sanitized to prevent the spreading of harmful pathogens. The next time you find yourself cleaning up blood, make sure to follow this step-by-step procedure to ensure your health and safety. For serious incidents with more than just a few drops of blood, it is advised not to clean the blood yourself. Instead, call a professional blood cleanup service to take care of large spills.