Five Areas that Require OSHA Bio-hazard Labeling
The Blood-borne Pathogens Standard outlines the regulations for bio-hazard labeling and color-coding. Three signals can alert you to the presence of a bio-hazard or bio-hazardous waste: the word “bio-hazard”, the bio-hazard symbol, or the fluorescent orange or orange-red color-coding.
These five areas are ones to watch for bio-hazard labeling in your facility:
● Regulated medical waste containers and other containers
According to OSHA, warning labels must be affixed to:
○ Containers of regulated waste,
○ Refrigerators and freezers containing blood or other potentially infectious material; and
○ Other containers used to store, transport or ship blood or other potentially infectious materials.
○ Containers of blood, blood components, or blood products that are labeled and have been released for transfusion,
○ Individual containers of blood or other potentially infectious materials that are placed in a labeled container during storage, transport, shipment or disposal, or
○ Regulated waste that has been decontaminated.
● Sharps Containers
Sharps containers must also be labeled or color-coded in accordance with the requirements of the Blood-borne Pathogens Standard.
● Contaminated Laundry
The Blood-borne Pathogens Standard also requires contaminated laundry to be placed and transported in labeled or color-coded bags. 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.
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 labeled or color-coded bags or containers.
Specimens of blood or other potentially infectious materials must be placed in a container which prevents leakage during collection, handling, processing, storage, transport, or shipping. The container for storage, transport, or shipping must be labeled or color-coded and closed prior to being stored, transported, or shipped.
Equipment that may become contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials shall be examined prior to servicing or shipping and shall be decontaminated as necessary, unless the employer can demonstrate that decontamination of such equipment or portions of such equipment is not feasible, according to OSHA. A readily observable bio-hazard label shall be attached to the equipment stating which portions remain contaminated.
Ensure that you have bio-hazard labeling or color-coding, as necessary, in these five areas and in other areas of your facility that fall under the guidelines of OSHA’s Blood-borne Pathogens Standard 1910.1030. In practice, most facilities typically use BOTH bio-hazard labeling AND color-coding in most cases.