Are Your Methods Outdated? Written by Shallan Ramsey, CEO, Founder MaskIT, July 15, 2019 Published in American Cleaning and Hygiene Magazine
Menstrual Hygiene Disposal may not be everyone’s favorite topic but facilities everywhere are familiar with the challenges it presents. When toilet paper is all that is provided in a stall, for the handling and covering of blood saturated items, contaminated and overfilled receptacles are unavoidable. It doesn’t matter how well trained and attentive a custodial staff may be, it is inevitable to find visible blood on the inside and outside of menstrual receptacles.
Facilities may provide liners for their receptacles, but unfortunately they aren’t always effective.
In situations like this, the alternative for people using the restroom becomes flushing. Plumbing problems due to flushed menstrual items is a universal issue. This is partially because tampons expand significantly in water, but it is typically the string attached to the tampon that becomes stuck in build up, debris, or a junction in the pipes. Once this happens, it isn’t long before there is a total blockage. Plumbers are expensive and overflowing toilets can wreak havoc on a facility.
Many facilities have become somewhat complacent when it comes to the typical struggles around menstrual hygiene disposal, assuming that there is not much that can be done. On the other hand, the most important issue around menstrual hygiene disposal is often completely overlooked; the health and safety of the custodial staff and the users of the restroom.
There is a major discrepancy in the way blood is handled in every other environment, in comparison to a public restroom.
According to the CDC, bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted in several ways, including direct contact with infected blood through “…skin bearing minute scratches, abrasions, burns, or even minor rashes,” as well as “…mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, or eyes”. Research has shown that diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and MRSA can live outside the body even in dried blood. It has been reported that Hep B can survive for up to a week, Hep C for up to 3 weeks and MRSA can survive for even longer.
It is evident that current practices need to evolve. Toilet Paper is not adequate for handling blood saturated items.
Today, many facilities are transitioning to as many touch-less systems as possible, but even in the best case scenario, there is still the stall door handle to think about. Although OSHA excludes feminine hygiene items from regulated waste, their guidelines do state that bags holding menstrual waste should “…prevent physical contact with the contents”. Additionally, custodians should be provided gloves when handling menstrual waste. Still they state that it is the Employer’s responsibility to determine if there is an occupational exposure risk.
Most people using public restrooms are completely unaware that they could be at risk for exposure. Therefore they are not taking any extra precautions. The lack of conversation around menstruation generally, and menstrual hygiene disposal specifically, has caused confusion. All the same, no matter the source, blood is blood.
Until recently, there has not been adequate solutions available for public restroom settings. When considering how to most effectively manage menstrual hygiene disposal, facilities should consider the entire process for someone changing out a menstrual item, beginning with the removal of the menstrual item, the process of its disposal as well as how the custodial staff is handling the discarded waste.
It is my opinion that Best Practices for Menstrual Hygiene Disposal should include single use bags that can provide glove-like protection during the removal of a menstrual item, self contain and seal the waste within, prior to being placed into a receptacle. A solution like this could significantly reduce touch point contamination throughout the restroom and reduce occupational exposure risks for custodians.
Best Practices should further include good fitting receptacle liners as well as a regular schedule in place for disinfecting menstrual receptacles both inside and out. Facilities should provide personal protective equipment, including gloves for custodial staff. Gloves should be changed promptly after coming into contact with menstrual receptacles and regular hand washing policies should be enforced.
In summary, Best Practices for Menstrual Hygiene Disposal in public restrooms should include:
Single use bags that provide glove-like protection during the removal of menstrual items, as well as self-contain and seal items within the bag prior to being placed in receptacles.
Proper fitting liners for menstrual receptacles.
A regular schedule for disinfecting both the inside and outside of menstrual receptacles.
Personal protective equipment, including gloves should be provided for custodial staff.
Gloves should be changed promptly after coming into contact with menstrual receptacles.
Regular hand washing policies should be enforced.
Shallan Ramsey is the CEO and Founder of MaskIT, a revolutionary and sustainable solution for menstrual hygiene disposal. She is an award winning entrepreneur and frequently presents at conferences around the country on the importance of properly addressing menstrual hygiene disposal. As a mother of three daughters, she is passionate about proactively trying to change the culture around menstruation to eliminate unnecessary risk in public restrooms for everyone. To find out more visit www.MaskIT.us
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