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RETROSPECTIVE: The 2001 Unimax Simple & Safe System 

HOW TO SAFELY HANDLE USED NEEDLES AND TUBES AFTER USE was a good question?

For safety reprocessing tools, it was obvious that a better method was needed than current practices requiring the cleaning of contaminated equipment that potentially cross-contaminated the facilities and personnel.
I reasoned that we could sterilize first and then clean and re-sterilize? After 12 years of consideration and field application (from 1990) a "Unimax System" was practical (being practiced in our 2 tattoo shops in NYC: Sacred Tattoo and Bowery Tattoo) and a feasible though more expensive way to meet OSHA requirements for the safe handling of  contaminated tools in Tattoo and Piercing.  Further, it seemed it would support the spirit and principles of OSHA to adopt a safer system.

An alternative was using a completely disposable tube grip and needle assembly
However, to require the adoption of completely disposable tube, grip and needle
(it did not exist) would not be acceptable to the many tattooists who tattoo better with the weight of Stainless Steel.
A mandatory disposable system would not be appropriate because
(A) re-usable (Stainless Steel) tools are currently invested in and usable, and
(B) a safe method for handling reusable tubes  The Unimax System culd be adopted

 

Unimax System may be an interesting alternative.
Any comments or improvements or flaws in this system, are asked to please write to, Wes Wood at info@unimaxsupply.com


Current practices seem\ed to

- violate OSHA proper work practices for the safe handling of contaminated equipment, 
- violate OSHA safe disposal of liquid wastes,
- violate OSHA 1910.1030(d)(3)(x) worker personal protective equipment standards while cleaning contaminated items,
- violate OSHA proper work practices transporting contaminated equipment and
- violate OSHA requirements to adherence to OSHA standards.


Reminder: Tattoo and piercing are required to follow local, state and federal regulations.
Following the procedure below does not violate OSHA 1910.1030

We suggest for your study the following procedure
which we believe enhances worker protection by applying the
spirit and principles of OSHA 1910.1030.


The UNIMAX SYSTEM at a glance.
An autoclave at each station. Rinse, place directly into autoclave and run a cycle.
After sterilization, processes normally, cleaning, bagging, sterilizing etc..
1. Rinse out the tube, or wipe the piercing tool when finished.
For tattooing,
This is the only "pain in the neck part" you should rinse out the tube after finishing the job. 
Run your needle and tube in your cleaning cup just like changing colors.
Piercing tools can be easily wiped with an antimicrobial cloth wipe.
Reduce the starting microbial load. If you don't remove the excess ink now it will be harder to remove after sterilization.

This is the step that adequately satisfies OSHA "pre-cleaning" to reduce the starting microbial load -- but without spreading potentially contaminating microbes.  This step demonstrates that limiting microbial contamination to a cup of water is safer that spreading it around a shop to a sink, an ultrasonic and surrounding areas. 

"Rinsing-cup" liquid and liquids from ultrasonics* can be disposed of as follows:
add 10% bleach and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Pour into the sanitary sewage system via the toilet (not the sink) taking care to avoid splashing. Dumping "untreated" contaminated water into the sanitary waste system is a violation of safe handling of contaminated wastes. 

Piercing tools can be wiped with a disinfectant cloth immediately after the procedure to remove any visible ointment or body fluids and placed directly in the basket or in the tray in front loaders.

Clean.tif (1156508 bytes)
2. Place unit or tube in container or sterilizer tray and sterilize
Dismount the needle-tube-grip unit from the tattoo machine and
lift the needle up and out of the tube by the loop and place it into a Sharps Container.

It would be contrary to safe handling to turn the tube upside down and hope the needle drops or can be shaken out into a sharps container as suggested by some. Beside being upside down with the needle portion up this suggestion is laughable.

Place the tube with grip directly into an autoclavable container or directly into the autoclave tray inside the sterilizer.  Autoclave at end of day or as convenient or necessary as the work schedule permits.
A small autoclave within each station sis needed.

Used instruments are never to be left in an open exposed state after the work is completed nor should contaminated tools be kept in disinfecting trays or temporary holding containers.

It would be a violation to transport or carry a "pan" or tray of contaminated liquid with tools from the station to a separate room for cleaning.

Contaminated liquids can only be transported in leak-proof tightly-closed containers.

3. After sterilization processes normally, cleaning, bagging, sterilizing etc..
All tools are now sterile after initial sterilization, potential contamination has been eliminated.
It is possible to sterilize without the tools being completely 100% clean.
Tools may now be brushed clean without fear of contamination or spatter. 
Dry, package and sterilize in sealed autoclave bags as normal.

It would be a violation of safety principles to brush-clean contaminated equipment
not wearing face protection, not using heavy-duty protective gloves (as opposed to latex gloves)
and without impervious body covering. 
For example, it would be prohibited to clean using street clothes as protection 
or an apron (that would not protect the arms).
To clean contaminated equipment protective clothing must be worn that has been
specifically made to protect the worker from contamination.

image16Strlzer.tif (1156508 bytes)
 
Cleaning contaminated tools is not a reasonable activity for a retail shop.
The room itself would be prohibitive to construct to meet standards of safety.

It is an OSHA violation of safe handling to bend, break, melt, recap, remove or do anything 
to contaminated sharps except dispose of them in a sharps container.
There is no other option. Nor are they to be given away to clients.
Anyone reprocessing to save any part of the needle bar is in violation.

A benefit,
The Unimax System will save money that is currently spend in decontaminating, what does not need to become contaminated in the first place. Better for the environment and better for us as workers.

EVEN A BETTER BENEFIT, The employee is no longer exposed.
1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)
The employer shall ensure that all medical evaluations and procedures including the hepatitis B vaccine and vaccination series and post-exposure evaluation and follow-up, including prophylaxis, are:
1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)(A)
Made available at no cost to the employee;
1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)(B)
Made available to the employee at a reasonable time and place;
1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)(C)
Performed by or under the supervision of a licensed physician or by or under the supervision of another licensed healthcare professional; and
1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)(D)
Provided according to recommendations of the U.S. Public Health Service current at the time these evaluations and procedures take place, except as specified by this paragraph (f).

*Ultrasonics