On matters of sterilization and disinfection of equipment, OSHA defers to CDC guidelines. The applicable OSHA standard, OSHA 1910.1030(e)(2)(ii)(B) states that contaminated materials that are to be decontaminated at a site away from the work area shall be placed in a durable, leakproof, labeled or color-coded container that is closed before being removed from the work area.
Here’s what the CDC has to say on this subject:
i. Minimize handling of loose contaminated instruments during transport to the instrument processing area.
ii. Use work practice controls, (e.g. carry instruments in a covered container), to minimize exposure potential.
Neither OSHA nor the CDC specifies the use of either cassettes or trays for holding contaminated instruments – technically you may use either (see CDC Infection Control Recommendations VI.D.3).
However, you should keep in mind the following when complying with this standard:
i. Ensure the container is durable, leakproof, and enclosed.
ii. Ensure the risk for sharps injury/exposure is minimized.
iii. Ensure the instruments themselves are properly placed and potential for damage/lost instruments is minimized – trays and cassettes with rails do a good job of this.
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