Tackling the Women’s Restroom

Orig Post www.cmmonline.com | Re-Post System4 10/19/2015

womens restroom sign300 wide

When Darrell Hicks, author of Infection Prevention for Dummies, was the director of environmental services at a 500-bed hospital in the Midwest, he knew that one of the least sanitary spots in the women’s bathroom was the feminine hygiene receptacle.

“We had a chrome container and what we referred to as ‘lunch bags,’ paper sacks lined with wax that made them impervious to wetness,” he says.

But his janitorial staff didn’t like the odors emitted when they opened the box to clean it.

They didn’t like to see what was inside, and they “didn’t want to come into contact with gross stuff,” he says. But these concerns shared by Hicks extend beyond having to dispose of the waste, and rather, bring up possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBPs) lurking inside and on the container.

Addressing the Risks

Feminine waste receptacles “are sometimes lined, sometimes lined with a bag that doesn’t hold its form to conceal the waste, sometimes unlined, sometimes streaked with what appears to be blood or bodily fluids,” says Ann Germanow, founder and CEO of The Scensible Source Co., which provides solutions for the disposal of feminine care products in restrooms. “They smell and that can be an indication the receptacle is contaminated with odor-causing bacteria.”

Germanow, too, is concerned about the hazards of possible infection for cleaning staff and restroom users. “I say, ‘Better safe than sorry,’ when it comes to maintaining a communal trash can that holds discarded materials with blood and body fluids in restrooms.”

While protocols should be in place to clean the restroom, it’s important that employees know to pay special attention to the feminine hygiene waste receptacle. “Everything is potentially infectious. Just because it’s not visible doesn’t mean there isn’t something on that surface,” Hicks says.

But how do you ensure that your employees are following the right procedures to keep themselves and others safe?

Educate and Train

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