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Handwashing facilities
  • Handwashing facilities must be readily accessible to employees and stocked with running potable water, soap, and single-use towels or air dryers.
  • Employees must wash as soon as possible after contact with blood or OPIM, and after removing PPE.

Handwashing facilities need three things:

  • An adequate supply of running potable water (water that meets drinking water standards),
  • Soap, and
  • Single-use towels or air dryers.

Handwashing facilities must be readily accessible to employees. That’s because handwashing must be performed as soon as feasible, with soap and running water that’s at least tepid, to adequately flush contaminated material from the skin.

Readily accessible handwashing facilities must be within a reasonable distance from the area where the employee may be exposed to contaminated material. If an employee must, for example, leave the work area and navigate doorways and stairs in order to wash, there is a reasonable chance that environmental surface contamination will occur in the process. This situation is a violation.

When to require handwashing

Employers must ensure that employees wash hands and any other skin with soap and water, or flush mucous membranes with water, immediately or as soon as feasible following any contact of these body surfaces with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

Employees must also wash their hands immediately or as soon as feasible after removal of gloves or other personal protective equipment (PPE). There is no requirement for handwashing upon leaving the work area unless contact with blood or OPIM has occurred or PPE has been removed.

Acceptable alternatives

At some sites, it is not feasible to provide soap and running water, such as a crime scene, traffic accident, or fire scene. In these situations, acceptable alternatives are:

  • Antiseptic hand cleansers in conjunction with a clean cloth or paper towels, or
  • Antiseptic towelettes.

These alternatives are only acceptable when handwashing facilities aren’t available. When alternatives are used, workers must wash with soap and running water as soon as feasible.

Research labs and production facilities

Employers will want to note that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) research labs and production facilities may have more stringent handwashing and handwashing facility requirements under 1910.1030(e).