Emptying any waste receptacle has a certain level of safety concern connected to it. Coming into contact with biohazards, harmful chemicals, sharp objects or bodily fluids is always a threat for cleaners, and waste receptacles in restrooms are no exception.

Although feminine-hygiene waste includes blood, cleanup of these products does not fall under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) bloodborne pathogens standard. Red-bagging is not required, however, OSHA does “expect products such as discarded sanitary napkins to be discarded into waste containers, which are lined in such a way as to prevent [cleaner] contact with the contents.”

Receptacles found in the stall units typically use anti-leak plastic or wax-coated paper liners to collect waste. The wax option sits up straight in the unit, but can’t be tied up when thrown out. The plastic liners collapse and must hang over the edge of the unit, but they can be tied up for easy emptying. These plastic liners also come in biodegradable and perfume-impregnated varieties.

No matter which liner is used, cleaners should always wear gloves and use caution when collecting waste from disposal units. Once out of the stall, bags should be placed in the regular waste receptacle before being thrown into the garbage.