Blood spills at work can be unnerving or even frightening to some individuals, but there is no reason for panic as long as proper cleanup procedures are followed. Having the proper materials available plus knowing how to perform a thorough cleanup will make the process much smoother and less stressful for all involved.
Below is more information about why proper blood cleanup is necessary and how you can safely perform a cleanup that will neutralize any potential health hazards.
Potential Bloodborne Health Hazards
There are several serious illnesses that can be transmitted through exposure to blood, and proper cleanup procedures are necessary to prevent exposed individuals from becoming sick.
These diseases include Hepatitis A, B and C, which are viral infections of the liver. While Hepatitis A is usually fairly self-limiting, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are chronic, incurable conditions linked to other serious liver diseases, including cancer and cirrhosis. A common means of acquiring either Hepatitis B or C is accidental exposure to blood of infected persons.
In addition, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be acquired by making contact with the blood of infection individuals. This virus can progress to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) if left untreated.
It’s important to keep in mind that some individuals are infected without symptoms and may not even be aware of their conditions. That is why you should always assume blood is contaminated, as you cannot afford to risk your health or the health of others by guessing incorrectly.
Steps to Cleaning Up a Blood Spill
Cleaning up a blood spill is straightforward, but each step should be executed with care and attention. Below is how you can safely perform a cleanup that will leave the area and persons free of contamination:
1. Protect the Immediate Area
As soon as you become aware of a potential blood spill, the first step is to clear the immediate area of as many individuals as possible and to contain the spill. For example, stand guard next to a blood spill site to ensure that people don’t accidentally step into the blood and spread it with their shoes.
2. Put on Protective Apparel
After people are out of the way and the spill site is secure, put on a pair of disposable latex or vinyl gloves to protect yourself from exposure during cleanup. Be sure to roll up your sleeves first and remove any coats or other clothing that might make accidental contact with the blood.
3. Contain the Blood Spill
Once you are wearing gloves and are ready to start cleaning, take several sheets of paper towels and place them on top of the blood to begin the absorption process. Allow the blood to soak into the paper towels for a minute or so; don’t attempt to wipe up the spill with towels, as you will smear the blood and enlarge the spill area.
4. Prepare a Disinfecting Solution
As the towels are absorbing blood, mix a solution of one part laundry bleach with nine parts of water to create a safe disinfectant. If you don’t have the equipment to measure precisely, then err on the side of mixing more bleach and less water. As long as the bleach isn’t diluted any further than ten percent, the disinfectant will retain its ability to kill pathogens.
5. Disinfect the Surface
Once your bleach solution is ready, carefully pick up the blood-soaked paper towels and dispose of them in a plastic trash bag. Next, place a few more clean paper towels on top of the spill area and slowly pour the disinfecting solution on top of the towels. Allow the solution to penetrate the towels and spread out to the margins of the spill site.
6. Perform a Final Cleanup
Allow the disinfecting solution to soak for 20 minutes, then pick up the saturated paper towels and place them into the trash bag. Wipe the site down with additional paper towels to dry up any remaining disinfectant. Allow the spill site to air dry before permitting anyone to enter.
Before you finish, look around the spill site closely for blood splatters and droplets you may have missed. If you find any residual blood, use a paper towel dampened with disinfecting solution to wipe down these surfaces, then allow them to air dry.
Finish the cleanup process by disposing of your gloves and any other used cleaning materials in the same trash bag you used earlier. Tie-off the trash bag, then place it into another clean bag for additional protection before placing into the appropriate waste receptacle.
If you have questions about cleaning up after a blood spill, be sure to contact Bio Recovery for help. We are available to assist with you all of your cleanup needs and are ready to serve you.