NURSING PATIENT CARE POLICY & PROCEDURE
September 3, 2013
Nursing Manual (Red)
Policy #: 7.15
Title: Management of Mercury Spills
To ensure University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics is prepared to respond
quickly and effectively to protect the safety and well-being of patients, visitors, and
staff in the event of mercury spill.
Each unit and/or department is responsible for the proper handling of mercury-
containing devices and reporting spills and other releases and exposures to employees
and patients. The department of Plant Engineering coordinates all spill clean-up and
A. Call Facilities and Engineering for clean-up. They will use a special mercury
B. Clearly post all spill areas and cordon them off until adequate clean-up has been
accomplished. Mercury has unique physical properties that make it difficult to
control in the event of a spill. If not contained, spilled mercury can accumulate in
the carpeting, on floors, and on other surfaces such as porous laboratory sinks and
C. Thoroughly wash hands and skin with soap and water if potential exposure to
mercury is suspected. Do not eat, drink, or apply lip balm when handling
D. For thermometers, broken pieces of glass should be carefully discarded in a
sharps container. If the thermometer bulb remains intact, call Facilities and
Engineering for clean-up.
A. OSHA Air Contaminants Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)
B. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (1988).
Guidelines for Protecting the Safety and Health of Health Care Workers.
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health
Service, CDC. DHHS publication no. (NIOSH) 88-119.
Page 2 of 2
V. REVIEWED BY
Director, Life Safety
Director, Plant Engineering
Director, Professional Services UW Health at The American Center
Nursing Patient Care Policy and Procedure Committee, August 2013
Beth Houlahan, DNP, RN, CENP
Senior Vice President Patient Care Services, Chief Nursing Officer