July 29, 2021

NIOSH Document Describes Safe Disinfection Practices in Correctional Facilities

NIOSH has released a publication on proper disinfectant routines in correctional facilities, including state and federal prisons and county jails. Titled “Safe and Proper Use of Disinfectants to Reduce Viral Surface Contamination in Correctional Facilities,” this publication is the latest in NIOSH’s Workplace Solutions series and recommends safe disinfection practices for use by correctional employees and incarcerated workers.

Incarcerated people often live in congregate settings, such as shared cells or dormitory-style barracks, and use communal bathrooms. These settings make effective social distancing difficult, and moreover, incarcerated individuals frequently have higher rates of chronic health conditions compared to the general population. Additionally, correctional employees and incarcerated workers often must share or exchange equipment and use shared workspaces and communal areas. Therefore, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices combined with the safe use of chemical disinfectants is particularly important to protecting the health of incarcerated people and correctional employees.

NIOSH’s new publication provides basic information on common viral pathogens in correctional environments, health effects associated with disinfectant use, and using the hierarchy of controls to limit exposures to disinfectants. The recommendations for employers, correctional facility employees, and incarcerated workers cover selection of disinfectants for use against particular pathogens; use of appropriate personal protective equipment; following product label instructions; providing adequate ventilation within the facility’s security requirements; and other practices.

Workers in correctional settings can include facility employees, such as correctional officers, teachers, chaplains, vocational instructors, healthcare providers, and others, as well as incarcerated people assigned by the facility to perform work activities. While many safe disinfection practices used in the general population are transferrable to correctional settings, the security requirements in correctional settings create unique considerations.

A PDF of the new publication can be downloaded from NIOSH’s website. NIOSH’s Workplace Solutions series, which offers accessible and practical recommendations for protecting occupational safety and health, also covers a wide range of topics, from reducing fatigue among retail workers to use of lockout and tagout procedures.