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Biohazard Waste Disposal: How to Dispose of Sharps and Medical Waste



September 8, 2021



Biohazard Waste Disposal: How to Dispose of Sharps and Medical Waste

Biohazard Waste Disposal: How to Dispose of Sharps and Medical Waste. Biohazard waste is a major concern for hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Healthcare workers must take special precautions when handling medical waste because it can carry serious diseases that can be easily transmitted to humans. Here are some ways to dispose of biohazardous medical waste in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Know the Types of Medical Waste

It may surprise you to find out there is no universally accepted definition of medical waste. The EPA defines medical waste as, “Generally, medical waste is healthcare waste that that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials and is often referred to as regulated medical waste.

The World Health Organization is more specific with the following definition.

WHO Types of Waste

Waste and by-products cover a diverse range of materials, as the following list illustrates:

Then to further complicate things states gave their own definitions, for example in Indiana medical waste is called infectious waste and in Illinois Medical Waste is called Potentially Infectious Medical Waste (PIMW).

Illinois like many other states, has its own definition of what Potentially Infectious Medical Waste is, shown below.

“Potentially infectious medical waste” or “PIMW” means the following types of waste generated in connection with the diagnosis, treatment (i.e., provision of medical services), or immunization of human beings or animals; research pertaining to the provision of medical services; or the production or testing of biologicals.

While generally the same you can see how regulations change from state to state. Here at Healthcare Waste Management, we have been providing medical waste services and destruction to the Midwest, for decades, and stay current on regulations.

Follow Proper Disposal Protocol

Disposing of medical waste properly ensures that it doesn’t cause a serious public health concern. Handling biohazardous medical waste should be done with care, which is why it is important to understand the steps to dispose of it properly.

There are many steps in the disposal process, after medical waste is generated, it must be placed in the proper container. Failing to place the medical waste in the appropriate container can harm humans, animals, or the environment. 

Some examples include, placing loose sharps in the red biohazard bin, bag, or box and not in the sharps container. Placing hazardous pharmaceuticals in the red biohazard bin, bag, or box and not in the RCRA black box.  

After the medical waste is placed in the appropriate container and that container is full, it will be moved to a storage room that is clearly marked according to state law. Generally, this must be a secured room, clearly marked of the biohazards present, and a warning sign stating authorized personal only.

Then a medical waste management company like, Healthcare Waste Management, will come to your facility on scheduled pickup days to remove the biohazard containers for proper destruction and disposal. At the same time, they will leave you with new containers.

Ensure your Facility is Compliant

First and foremost, make sure your facility is compliant with relevant safety regulations. In some cases, there may be certain requirements that you need to adhere to, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, and proper waste segregation.

Most fines for medical waste come from improper disposal (segregation) and/or training of employees, and record keeping.

Compliance training is one of the most effective ways to ensure your facility has its bases covered. Compliance training will cover items such as Bloodborne Pathogens Certifications, HIPAA Training, Exposure Control Plans, MSDS, and more.

A good compliance training program like the one we offer, will have online access, that also serves as a central depository for all your needed documentation. From MSDS sheets to Exposure Control Plans, and training records for each employee/department.

Here at Healthcare Waste Management, we provide online OSHA training courses in an easy to use and manage training center: Bloodborne Pathogens, HIPAA, Hazcom, DoT, Sharps Safety, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Fires Safety, Ergonomics, Electrical Safety, and more.

Call today to speak to a qualified expert in this field like Healthcare Waste Management to find out more about the ins and outs of OSHA compliance program and how it can benefit your business.

How to Dispose of Blood Products

Blood products can contain dangerous pathogens, such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Syphilis, and many others. If blood is not properly disposed of it can transmit infectious pathogens to humans, get into the water supply, the environment, or even the food chain. This can cause severe complications in humans and animals, leading to death or illness.

Items soaked with blood that release blood when compressed or items caked with blood that will flake off when handled must be disposed of as medical waste. It will go in the clearly marked red biohazard bin, box, or bag.

The OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard states,

Medical Waste Safety Guidelines

Healthcare facilities and facilities generating medical waste must use the right personal protective equipment when occupational exposure is possible to its employees. Place all medical waste in leak-proof containers that can be securely closed, color coded or labeled. Keep medical waste in a secured locked storage room until a medical waste disposal company can come and collect it.

Never empty or reach into a medical waste bin or a contaminated sharps disposal container.

If sharp materials are being handled, correct procedures must be used to prevent puncture wounds. Broken glass must never be picked up with bare hands as this increases the risk of sustaining wounds. Use a broom and dustpan instead. Broken, bloodied glass would be classified as medical waste and must be disposed of in a sharps container.

Store away from public access.

Discard all regulated medical waste according to federal, state, and local regulations.

Report any needle sticks, or exposure to blood and OPIM immediately.

Employees involved in handling body fluids or regulated waste must practice Universal Precautions. This is an infection control method which requires employees to assume that all human blood and specified human body fluids are infectious for bloodborne pathogens and must be treated accordingly.

Conclusion

Medical waste management is a process of identifying the types of waste your facility produces, advising on the best safety, collection process, types of containers, and the storage time before it must be removed from your facility. Once Healthcare Waste Management picks up your waste it becomes our responsibility. We are the only company you will ever need. We own and setup the trucks to safely haul medical waste, we directly employ and train the drivers to properly manage medical waste, we own the treatment plants that will decontaminate the medical waste.

Contact Healthcare Waste Management today to see how we can help your facility, in addition to medical waste disposal services, we also provide secure document destruction, compliance training for large and small facilities with an easy-to-use online compliance program.

Does your facility produce cardboard bales? We can also recycle your cardboard bales for you. Contact one of our friendly representatives today with any questions and to see how we can help.    


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