Spill Procedures for Custodians

Small Spill: a few drops of blood or fluid

  • Obtain the spill kit needed to address the spill.
  • Put on the appropriate PPE: gloves and safety glasses.
  • Place the absorbent material (paper towels) on top of the spill area.
  • Wipe the area with an absorbent towel and then with the disinfectant (bleach, A33, etc.) for the appropriate contact time.
  • Place all items that are dripping with blood into the biohazard bag. Call REHS to request a pickup of medical waste.
  • Place all items that are not contaminated or have just a few drops of blood into a clear trash bag. Take the bag directly to the dumpster.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

Large Spill: a small puddle of blood or fluid

  • Block off the spill area, warn others not to walk through the spill.
  • Contact a specially trained foreperson for assistance, if needed.
  • Obtain the spill kit needed to address the spill.
  • Put on the appropriate PPE: gloves and safety glasses.
  • Place the absorbent material (paper towels) on top of the spill area.
  • Wipe the area with an absorbent towel and then with the disinfectant (bleach, A33, etc.) for the appropriate contact time.
  • Place all items that are dripping with blood into the biohazard bag. Call REHS to request a pickup of medical waste.
  • Place all items that are not contaminated or have just a few drops of blood into a clear trash bag. Take the bag directly to the dumpster.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

Catastrophic Spill: a large amount of blood or fluid spread over a large area

  • Block off the area of the spill, warn others not to walk through the spill.
  • Contact REHS for assistance at 848-445-2550 during business hours, or call Rutgers Police after hours by obtaining an outside line and dialing 911.

Personal Contamination

  • Remove any contaminated clothing or protective equipment.
  • If skin has been contaminated, wash with soap and warm water.
  • If eyes have been splashed, rinse under running water (eyewash or faucet) for at least 15 minutes.
  • Contact Rutgers Police by obtaining an outside line and dialing 911 if medical attention is needed.
  • Tell your supervisor what happened, and visit your local Occupational Health Center for follow-up care.

Needle in Regular Trash

  • Locate a sharps container.
  • Put on gloves and safety glasses.
  • Find a mechanical way to pick up the needle (tweezers, tongs, pliers).
  • Using the tweezers, lift the needle out of the trash can.
  • Carefully place the needle into the sharps container.
  • Wash the tweezers with A-33 (or bleach) and allow to sit in disinfectant for the appropriate contact time.
  • Take off gloves and wash hands with soap and water.

Spill Procedures For Laboratory Staff

Spill of Human Blood or Body Fluids (other potentially infectious materials)

  1. Put on appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including double gloves, gown, protective eyewear, and face mask.
  2. Control access to area. Prevent people from walking through affected area and thereby tracking the blood or other potentially infectious material to other areas.
  3. Contain spill. Use paper towels or other absorbent material to contain spill.
  4. Use forceps, plastic scoop, or other mechanical means to remove any broken glass or other sharp objects from the spill area. Take care not to create aerosols. Place these items into a small cardboard box, thick walled plastic bag, or other container that will prevent them from puncturing the red bag (or your hand). Place the contained sharp items into the red bag for disposal. Do not seal bag.
  5. Apply appropriate disinfectant. To avoid creating aerosols, never spray disinfectant directly into spilled material. Instead, gently pour disinfectant on top of paper towels covering the spill or gently flood affected area first around the perimeter of the spill, then work disinfectant slowly into spilled material.
  6. Allow several minutes of contact time with disinfectant.
  7. Pick-up all absorbent material and place carefully in red bag for disposal. Do not seal red bag.
  8. Clean affected area again with disinfectant and new paper towels. Place used paper towels in red bag for disposal. Do not seal red bag.
  9. Dry area. Place used paper towels in red bag for disposal. Do not seal red bag.
  10. Once spill is completely cleaned, place all used spill control equipment in the red bag for disposal. Do not seal red bag.
  11. Remove PPE and place in red bag for disposal. Remove PPE in the following order:
    • Remove soiled gown.
    • Remove outer pair of disposable gloves.
    • Remove face mask and protective eyewear.
  12. Do not remove PPE from face with soiled gloves. Remove soiled outer gloves first and place them in the red bag for disposal. Use clean inner glove to remove PPE from face. This prevents the introduction of blood or other potentially infectious material to the mucous membranes of the face via a contaminated glove.
  13. Once all used PPE, spill control equipment, and other potentially contaminated items are in the red bag seal bag securely for disposal. See the Policy for Disposal of Biological Waste for information concerning the proper disposal of regulated medical waste at Rutgers University.
  14. Wash hands.

Spill of Potentially Infectious Microorganisms (within Biosafety Cabinet)

  1. When an infectious material is spilled within the biosafety cabinet it should be cleaned-up immediately by the individual performing the work. If the cabinet is certified and working properly (and not overfilled with lab equipment which limits the cabinet's air flow) there is little risk of releasing aerosols of the material into the general laboratory environment.
  2. When cleaning and decontaminating a spill within a biosafety cabinet care should be taken not to move hands and arms into and out of the cabinet unnecessarily. This action creates turbulence that reduces the laminar air flow characteristics and effectiveness of the biosafety cabinet. A suitable disinfectant and laboratory wipes should always be available within the cabinet or on the supply cart or table directly adjacent to the biosafety cabinet. Additionally, employees working with potentially infectious microorganisms must wear adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  3. To effectively clean and decontaminate a spill within the biosafety cabinet:
    • With cabinet running, cover affected area immediately with lab wipes or other available absorbent material.
    • Using a prepared spray bottle of a disinfectant appropriate for the material being worked with, cover spill with absorbent material pre-soaked with disinfectant.
    • Allow sufficient contact time.
    • Pick-up absorbent material and place in small autoclave bag inside biosafety cabinet. Do not seal bag.
    • Clean affected area again with disinfectant. If chlorine bleach is used, the affected area should be cleaned one final time with 70% Ethanol. The chlorine bleach will pit and corrode the stainless steel work area inside the biosafety cabinet.
    • Place sealed bag in biohazardous waste receptacle suitable for autoclaving.

Spill of Potentially Infectious Microorganisms (outside of Biosafety Cabinet)

Spills of infectious agents, especially those requiring biosafety level 2 containment or higher, outside the biosafety cabinet present a considerable risk of infection to laboratory workers. The laboratory in which the spill occurs should be vacated immediately by all occupants. Any laboratory worker requiring medical attention should be escorted to the local Occupational Health Center for medical evaluation and treatment. The laboratory supervisor should report the spill to REHS by phone at 848-445-2550 as soon as possible, and then complete an accident report in the accident database at http://myrehs.rutgers.edu as soon as possible.

The laboratory should remain vacant for at least 30 minutes. This allows aerosolized droplets to settle and the building's ventilation system to exhaust droplets which are airborne to the external environment. In some instances (e.g., buildings with recirculating ventilation systems) the ventilation system servicing the affected portion of the building may need to be shut down to prevent the dissemination of contaminated air.

In general, the steps taken to clean and decontaminate spills of an infectious agent outside the biological safety cabinet are identical to those taken when cleaning spills of blood and other potentially infectious material. Additional precautions may need to be taken depending on the particular properties of the spilled agent as well as the volume of the spill. A more thorough discussion of the cleaning and decontamination of spills of infectious material in laboratories may be found in the biosafety guide.

Personal Contamination

  • Remove any contaminated clothing or protective equipment.
  • If skin has been contaminated, wash with soap and warm water.
  • If eyes have been splashed, rinse under running water (eyewash or faucet) for at least 15 minutes.
  • Contact Rutgers Police by obtaining an outside line and dialing 911 if medical attention is needed.
  • Tell your supervisor what happened, and visit the appropriate occupational/ student health department.
  • Supervisor must submit an accident report.