“Is holding and scrubbing bloodied instruments with a gloved hand acceptable by OSHA?

Should instruments be soaked in hot soapy cavicide water and run for 10 min in the ultrasonic, then bagged and sterilized? 

Finally, should hinges of the hemostats and scissors be opened or closed during cleaning?”

While OSHA does not prohibit the manual cleaning of dental instruments, it is certainly safer and more efficient to use automated equipment (e.g. ultrasonic cleaner, washer-disinfector, etc.). For matters of sterilization, OSHA defers to CDC guidelines. When performing manual cleaning, the CDC recommends soaking the instruments in a detergent, disinfectant or enzymatic cleaner to prevent drying and to make cleaning easier. From an occupational safety perspective, you’ll want to ensure you are using the appropriate tools – like long handled brushes and PPE, such as heavy-duty, puncture resistant gloves, fluid-resistant gowns, etc. However, in general, one will want to prioritize automated cleaning over manual cleaning. Regarding whether or not the hinges of hemostats/scissors should be opened or closed during cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations – but they’ll likely need to be opened for effective cleaning.

References & Resources:

1. OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard 

2. CDC Disinfection and Sterilization Guidelines

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