California has stringent laws delineating the requirements that must be satisfied in order to provide biohazard cleanup services. These types of services are also known as biohazard remediation as well as trauma scene waste management. California law utilizes the latter term, trauma scene waste management practitioner in delineating the underlying requirements to perform this type of work in the state.
Definition of a Trauma Scene Waste Management Practitioner
A trauma scene waste management practitioner is defined as an individual who undertakes, as a commercial activity, the removal of human blood, bodily fluids, and other materials and residue associated with a death, serious injury, or severe illness.
Registration as a Trauma Scene Waste Management Practitioner
In order to lawfully engage in services as a biohazard remediator, or trauma scene waste management practitioner, an individual must register with the state of California. Registration specifically is made through the California Department of Public Health pursuant to the Medical Waste Management Act. The public health department maintains a list of duly registered trauma scene waste management practitioner.
In addition to overseeing proper training and registration of these practitioners, the health department is also charged with ensuring that trauma scene waste management professionals remain in compliance with all regulations associated with the remediation of biohazardous materials.
California Department of Public Health Standards
The California Department of Public Health establishes standards associated with trauma scene waste remediation. The agency works in conjunction with the trauma scene waste management and healthcare industries to establish these standards. The agency specifically develops standards pertaining to:
- Documentation of personal protection provided to and used by workers, established in accordance with the bloodborne pathogen standards established by the California Occupational and Safety Administration.
- Delineation of the chemicals and technologies appropriate for use in the cleanup, disinfection, and remediation of a trauma scene.
California Bloodborne Pathogens Safety Training
Individuals who are exposed to blood, bodily fluids, or other biological materials that may be infected with dangerous pathogens must undergo appropriate training. The California Department of Industrial Relations establishes the parameters for who needs this type of training and the content of the instruction.
The American Red Cross provides a comprehensive training program for those individuals who occupationally are at risk for exposure to dangerous pathogens. The course can be undertaken online.
Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards
In addition to meeting the various safety and associated requirements mandated by the state public health department, a trauma scene waste management practitioner must also comply with OSHA standards. OSHA has established the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) program to protect workers involved in trauma scene cleanup and biohazard remediation.
Certification for this type of remediation work is obtained via the OSHA HAZWOPER program. Certification can be obtained by undertaken a 40-hour course designed specifically for individuals who will be involved in operations like traumatic scene waste management. In addition, the agency has an 8-hour refresher course. The refresher course is taken annually by individuals involved directly in traumatic waste site cleanup and remediation.
OSHA maintains a wealth of resources for commercial enterprises and individuals involved in traumatic scene waste management or biohazard remediation services. Indeed, OSHA has voluminous resources to address a myriad of aspects of workplace and occupational safety.
Removal, Transportation, and Storage of Biohazardous Materials
The California Medical Waste Management Act sets forth specifically how biohazardous materials are to be removed, transported, or stored following the remediation of a trauma scene. As a general rule, biohazardous waste from a trauma scene must be removed immediately upon the conclusion of the cleanup or remediation phase. The waste must be placed in an appropriate biohazard container, which typically is a red bag or box with appropriate labeling.
If the material is particularly large, an appropriate biohazard label or tag can be attached to it. For example, if some or all of a mattress is being transported and disposed of, it would be too large for a bag or box and would be tagged.
If necessary, trauma scene waste can be stored in a dedicated freezer at the business location of the trauma scene waste management practitioner. The waste can only be stored in this manner for no more than 14 days. (In some instances, a practitioner may be able to get special approval from the California Department of Public Health for storage beyond 14 days.)