What is biohazard waste?
Biohazard waste consists of bodily fluids such as blood and urine, along with any materials, equipment or tools that may have been contaminated by coming into contact with the fluids. The terms biohazard, biohazardous and infectious waste can all be defined as the same thing. Waste has the risk of being infectious, which is why it must be handled and disposed of with care.
To avoid spreading the potential harbouring viral, parasitic or bacterial infection, the waste must always be contained and segregated as quickly as possible. Hospitals, clinics, dental offices and other medicinal practices are often the most likely places to find biohazard waste - however accidents and injuries can happen anywhere, so being aware of the correct steps to take is vital.
How can I identify biohazard waste?
Identifying biohazard waste is not always an easy task, so ensure that you complete a comprehensive analysis of any situation you encounter, or feel that you may encounter, waste. This includes examining the environment, any individuals present, and materials, items or tools used in close proximity. It can be dangerous to only be considering a singular item to be classified as biohazardous waste, as infections can pass quickly and may have been picked up on other items, surfaces or individuals from the initial waste. Blood, saliva, secretions, and internal fluids in any shape or form are biohazardous - infections and viruses spread through a range of body fluids: blood, urine, faeces, saliva, sweat, vomit, tears, breast milk, semen, vaginal secretions and more, so it is important to be aware of any spilled fluids in the affected area.
Keep this in mind when containing waste, and sterilising the environment. The items are often found and classified as biohazardous waste:
- Soiled bed sheets or gowns
- Sharps such as syringes or scalpel blades
- Animal wastes
What should I wear when disposing of biohazard waste?
When dealing with bodily fluids and biohazardous waste, the main risk of infection is through hand to mouth/nose/eye contact, or via broken skin (open wounds). The products used to clean and sterilise may also contain harmful substances, which can cause skin irritation, internal damage or eye injury. Any part of the body which could come into contact with the waste should be covered - therefore when cleaning up and disposing ensure you have the correct PPE:
- Waterproof, impermeable gloves (e.g Sempercare Velvet Nitrile Gloves, these combine being exceptionally light with comfortable, soft material, while protecting the user from infections. £9.50)
- Eye protection (e.g Face Shield, these shields are sturdy and long lasting, allowing full protection of the face, £2.49)
- A Disposable Apron (These disposable plastic aprons are flat packed, and come in packs of 100, £5.00)
- Waterproof, disposable overshoes or an easily cleanable option (e.g Wellingtons)
How should you clean up the biohazard waste?
When conducting the clean-up procedure, it is important to use this additional equipment, to clean, segregate and dispose of the waste safely:
- Warning barriers, A-boards and/or cones
- Body Fluid Clean Up Kit (Our disposal kits feature a comprehensive selection of items suited for the clean up, removal and disposal of biohazard waste, allowing you to sanitise and clear the affected area, Sizes: Mini Clean up Kit - £6.66, One application - £10.70, Two applications - £14.23, Three applications - £31.50, Five applications - £38.25)
- A dustpan and brush, or scraper
- Disinfectant Spray (Ideally suited to surface cleaning and sanitisation with trigger spray, effective against a range of bacteria, micro-organisms and viruses, 500ML, £6.11)
- Absorbent powder/ Body Spill Granules (This product will help to instantly contain a spillage and assist in the recovery of contamination, £13.42)
- Mop, cloth or sponge for cleaning surfaces with disinfectant
- Biohazard waste bags (Our waste bags are flat packed and heavy duty, suitable for the containment and removal of biohazard waste, Size Medium - £8.45, Large - £12.75)
After putting on the correct PPE, section off the affected area and restrict access.
Following this, sprinkle Body Spill Granules (or absorbent powder) over the fluids. The granules turn liquid into a solid for easy cleaning, which can then be removed with the use of a scraper or dustpan and brush. Solid faeces can be disposed of in a toilet without applying powder. All used granules should be placed into a biohazard waste bag.
Separately bag any contaminated materials such as clothing or bedding, for cleaning or disposal depending on the level of contamination.
If you’re handling sharps, use a Sharps Disposal Kit - they are specifically designed to be impermeable against needles, syringes, blades and other potentially harmful items. The kits contain powder free vinyl gloves and basic utensils to keep you and others as safe as possible.
After this, begin to disinfect or sterilise affected surfaces and items. Our Disinfectant Spray is effective against a range of bacteria, micro-organisms and viruses, and will complete the sanitisation of the contaminated area.
How should you dispose of the equipment following the clean up?
Responsible disposal of biohazard waste is just as important as effectively cleaning the contaminated area, to keep its impact on the environment and people to a minimum.
You must not dispose of biohazardous waste in a general waste disposal, as it has the potential to come into contact with people or animals, and cause illness or death.
Instead, visit either a biohazard waste disposal bin or collection point, which are highly visible and can be easily found online. Alternatively, you can arrange a collection with your local council.
At First Aid Warehouse, we stock a full range of the supplies needed for biohazard removal. If you have any further questions around biohazard waste clean up and removal, Get in touch with us.