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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
August 9, 2007
Mr. William Gavlak
Medical Cost Containment Systems, LLC
P O Box 88327
Atlanta, GA 30356
Dear Mr. Gavlak,
This is in response to your June 20, 2007, correspondence to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was transferred to our Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) for a response. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of only the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions or scenarios not delineated within your original correspondence. Your letter requested clarification regarding OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. You specifically asked about requirements for the construction of trash receptacles that are used in operating rooms for the containerization of regulated waste.
Question: Does a regulated waste trash receptacle that resides in an operating room need to be covered?
The Bloodborne Pathogens standard, 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(B)(1), requires regulated waste containers to be ". . . (a) Closable; (b) Constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport, or shipping; (c) Labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of this standard; and (d) Closed prior to removal to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping." The intent of the term "closable" is to ensure that waste contained within the receptacle is not spilled during the handling and storage of the container. While the container is in use, it is not a requirement that it be closed. However, in between uses and once the container is removed from use (i.e., before transport and during storage), it must be closed.
If the exterior of the container (plastic bag) becomes contaminated, as is possible in a surgical suite, the employer must ensure a secondary containment system is available. This secondary container must also be closable and must prevent spillage during handling and transport [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(B)(2)].
Additionally, please remember that OSHA does not approve or endorse the use of any specific products and/or their manufacturers and suppliers. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. For further information on this subject, you may go to OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs