There are three signals outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that alert individuals to the presence of a biohazard. This includes the word “biohazard”, the biohazard symbol, or the fluorescent orange and red color coding. Improper handling of this waste can result in exposure to hazardous and infectious substances, which is why there is a universal symbol to indicate such agents. When applying biohazard labels in a building or area that contains hazards, there are five main things that cannot be overlooked. Let’s review these below.

1. Regulated Medical Waste Containers

Three main types of containers exist for biohazard waste including containers of regulated waste or other potentially infectious material, refrigerators and freezers containing blood, and other containers used to store, transport, or ship blood.

There are some exceptions to OSHA’s requirements including blood products that have been labeled and released for transfusion, individual containers of infectious materials that are labeled during storage or shipment, and regulated waste that has been decontaminated.

2. Sharps Containers

In addition to OSHA,the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires sharps containers to be labeled or color-coded with biohazard labels.

3. Contaminated Laundry

Contaminated laundry is required to be placed and transported in bags that are labeled or color-coded. If a facility utilizes universal precautions when handling soiled laundry, they may use alternative labeling is all employees recognize the containers. Shipping contaminated laundry to another facility off-site requires to use of standard biohazard symbols to indicate that there is a hazardous substance.

4. Specimens

Specimens of blood, urine, or other infectious materials must be placed in a containers that prevents leakage during collection, handling, processing, storage, transport, and shipping, which are labeled or color-coded.

5. Equipment

Any equipment that has the potential to become contaminated with blood or other infectious materials must has an affixed biohazard label. Prior to servicing or shipping, the equipment must be decontaminated.

Ensure that your biohazard waste and containers have the required markings and use attention-getting fluorescent labels that stand out so hazards are noticed immediate. These labels are available in several sizes and in materials such as paper and self-adhesive stickers. Furthermore, there are red and orange biohazard bags as well as trash bins containing labels that can be used for the disposal and autoclaving of waste. With potentially infectious agents routinely being handled and manipulated, it is important to prevent them from entering into the environment where they can be a threat to others. The ICC Compliance Center website may be able to provide additional insights.

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