A bio-hazard is any organic material that poses a risk of harm or illness to human beings or to the environment. Bio-hazardous materials are often used in research, in which case bio-safety cabinet testing is required to make sure that they are stored securely until needed and pose no risk of accidental exposure.
However, sometimes a bio-hazard threat happens by accident. A spill of bodily fluids, such as blood, is a bio-hazard because of the risk of exposure to pathogens. To protect yourself from exposure when cleaning up such spills, take the following steps.
- Isolate the Area
Prevent the body fluid spill from spreading by blocking off the area in which it has occurred.
- Obtain the Necessary Personal Protective Equipment
There may be a chance that the fluid could splash or spatter as you are cleaning it up. If this is the case, you may want to wear eye protection. In any case, you should definitely wear gloves that are impervious to liquid. If the gloves are disposable, so much the better because you can remove them when done and simply throw them away.
- Cover the Spill
The best way to clean up a spill of body fluids is to cover it with a solid absorbent material or paper towels that can wipe up the spill and then be disposed of.
- Disinfect the Area
A disinfectant should be applied to the area twice to kill all pathogens. The first time, you should wipe up the disinfectant with the paper towels. The second time, you should allow it to air dry after first diluting it. Choose a disinfectant rated effective against HIV.
- Dispose of the Waste
Before disposing of the waste, you should first double bag it in a pair of plastic bags, tying each closed. Only then is it safe to dispose of in your regular trash receptacle.
Once you have finished cleaning up, you should remove any clothing that may have come in contact with the fluid, wash your hands with soap and water, and disinfect any reusable equipment used in the clean-up, such as a wet-dry vacuum cleaner.