Workstation Safety

Approaching sharp instruments
The frequency of injuries sustained during autopsy procedures can be reduced using simple practices. Most injuries to mortuary staffs are caused by sharp and pointed objects, hence, use of such instruments should be employed with extra care. Needle pricks are common and its use and disposal should be methodically governed.

Use of blunt tip scissors and curved scissors instead of scalpel to eviscerate abdominal and thoracic organs can reduce the risk of injuries. Using forceps to hold tissue rather than free/opposite hand and use of knitted or steel cut-resistant gloves can provide extra protection. Use of towel to cover cut jagged ends of ribs can prevent scrape injuries. Sponge can be used to steady the organ while making slices. Large toothed forceps or clamps can be used to assist in suturing at the end of the autopsy. Instruments used for infective cases should be cleaned in an enzymatic cleaner or detergent, then rinsed and soaked in 2% aqueous glutaraldehyde or 1:10 solution of bleach for at least 10 minutes to disinfect them.

Keeping laundry, instruments and workstation decontaminated
In case of routine decontamination, all instruments should be dipped in detergent solution for at least 10 minutes then rinsed with water and decontaminated with disinfectant such as 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (1:10 solution of household bleach in water) for another 10 minutes. Glutaraldehyde does not damage aluminum and steel. One should also rinse work surfaces with hot water followed by a 1:10 solution of bleach. Floors in the autopsy work area should be cleaned with a detergent solution, decontaminated, and rinsed with water. Ultraviolet light provides a secondary source for decontaminating room surfaces and air. Any wet clothing, towels, or other reusable laundry should be placed into leak-proof biohazard bags before transportation.