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Chapter 11: Biosafety for CSW and FM Employees

Campus Service Workers (CSW) and Facilities Management (FM) personnel are responsible for cleaning and performing maintenance throughout campus. While performing their assigned job function, they may encounter biological hazards in both controlled environments, such as laboratories and other research spaces, or in non-controlled environments, such as classrooms, restrooms, indoor and outdoor public spaces, or other areas of campus. This chapter of the Biosafety Manual will provide guidance and procedures for CSW and FM personnel related to identifying and safely working around biohazards.


1.1. Biological Hazards: Also referred to Biohazards, Infectious Materials/Agents, or Etiological agents. Any biological agent that has the potential to cause harm to people, animals, plants, or the environment.

1.2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards.


2.1. General Biosafety Hazard Communication 

All university spaces that store, manipulate, or otherwise contain biological hazards or infectious materials will be denoted with the universal biohazard symbol (Figure 1) on the outer door. This is required for Biosafety Level 2 and higher. It will be present on the outer door of the space, along with any equipment within the space where biohazards are present.

               Universal Biohazard Symbol

Figure 1. Universal Biosafety Symbol

2.2. Standard PPE for Cleaning 

At minimum, wear protective gloves when cleaning. Wearing appropriate gloves protects you from biological and chemical hazards you may encounter.

  • Nitrile gloves are preferred, as they provide adequate protection against most chemical cleaners and biological hazards encountered.
  • Never reuse gloves after removal, gloves are designed to be disposable PPE.
  • Change gloves often to prevent the possibility of cross-contamination between locations cleaned.
  • Gloves should be removed following guidance provided in Section 2.4 Proper Glove Removal of this chapter.

Safety glasses should be utilized when spraying chemical cleaners or when there is potential for splash, splatter, or spray of material or cleaners during cleanup activities.

2.3. Trash Removal from Laboratories and Research Spaces

  • When removing trash from a laboratory or research space, only trash in regular trash receptacles will be collected or handled by Campus Service Workers.
  • No biohazardous waste will be collected or handled by CSWs. Figure 2 shows some examples of biohazard waste containers.
  • Change gloves often to prevent the possibility of cross-contamination between locations cleaned.
  • Gloves should be removed following guidance provided in Section 2.4 Proper Glove Removal of this chapter.
Figure 2. Common Biohazard Waste Containers

              Examples of Biohazard Containers

  • You may observe similar waste in both regular and biohazard waste receptacles.
    • Researches are trained to determine which waste receptacle is appropriate, based on how the item was utilized. Refer to Figure 3 for examples of waste that could potentially be discarded as regular trash or biohazard waste.
    • If you are uncertain, contact your supervisor, or a member of the lab to provide further clarification.

Figure 3. Biohazard Waste Classification

               Flyer to help determine if something should go in a biohazard waste container

2.4. Improperly Discarded Medical Sharps Cleanup Procedure

At times, an improperly discarded medical sharp, such as a hypodermic needle/syringe or fingerstick device, may be discovered either in a non-approved sharps container, trashcan, or on the ground. This presents a risk of a needle-stick exposure and must be properly discarded in a safe manner. Never pick the sharp up with your hand, or attempt to carry the sharp to another location.

In order to minimize the potential for a needle-stick exposure, follow these steps (see Figure 4 for a summary):
  1. Contact your supervisor and/or the Biosafety office, if necessary, for guidance for proper sharp disposal.
  2. Don appropriate PPE including nitrile or vinyl gloves and safety glasses.
  3. Use a mechanical device, such as tweezers, forceps, tongs, or even pliers, to carefully pick up the sharp with the point facing away from you and others. Never attempt to pick up a sharp with your hands.
  4. If a sharps container is available, carefully place the sharp, point first, into the sharps container.
  5. If a sharps container is not available, locate a hard walled container, large enough to contain the sharp, such as a drink bottle. Carefully place the sharp, point first, into the container. Cap the container and label that a sharp is present inside. Discard the sealed, labeled container in the trash.
  6. Disinfect the mechanical device with a suitable disinfectant.
  7. Remove and discard PPE.

Figure 4. Improperly Discarded Sharp Cleanup Response

                  Procedure for handling improperly discarded sharp to prevent getting a needle stick

2.5. Human Bodily Fluids Cleanup Procedure

Campus service workers are required to clean up human bodily fluids around campus. Some of the more common bodily fluids encountered include blood, urine, feces, vomitus, or saliva. As there is potential risk for blood borne pathogen exposure when cleaning up human bodily fluids, the following precautions must be taken.

  1. Contact your supervisor and decide if the safety office or more senior leadership needs to be involved. This could be due to the size of the mess, consistency of material, porosity of the surface needing cleaned, lack of PPE, or other reason.
  2. Gather proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves, Tyvek coveralls, and eye protection and face mask (full face shield, surgical mask with built in face shield, or safety glasses and surgical mask) (see Figure 5).
  3. Figure 5. PPE for Human Materials Cleanup

    PPE for Human Materials Cleanup
  4. Gather appropriate cleaning supplies. Ensure that you are using a disinfectant rated to kill blood borne pathogens. Some examples can be found in Table 1 of this chapter.
  5. Don appropriate PPE and clean up spill.
  6. Place waste material in appropriate containers. Fecal matter, urine, saliva, vomitus without visible blood can be placed in the regular trash. Blood, uterine fluid, or any bodily fluids visibly containing blood must be placed in a biohazard waste bag for disposal as biohazard waste.
  7. Any contaminated materials used during cleanup that can not be easily decontaminated or are porous, such as a mop head, must be thrown away.
  8. Once cleanup is complete, remove all PPE in the following order: Tyvek coverall, eye protection and face mask, and finally gloves.
  9. Wash hands.

Table 1. Commonly Accepted Suitable Disinfectants

                    Commonly accepted suitable disinfectants

2.6. Proper Glove Removal

West Virginia University as adopted the “beak method” as the recommended method of glove removal.

   "Beak Method" Glove Removal Steps

Source: Emory University

The following is a video demonstrating the beak method of glove removal.


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Version History:

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Initial version

Matt Stinoski