Biohazardous waste is also called biomedical waste or infectious waste. It is any waste from any company or organization that generates materials that contain infection or potentially infectious substances. These materials can run the gamut from blood and blood products all the way to sharps that are any item that can pierce the skin. Pickup of biohazardous waste can only be done by licensed, trained, professional medical waste disposal companies. There are various local, state, and federal laws that must be complied with for biohazard waste disposal and each state may vary in their requirements.
Special attention is given to the biohazard category of “sharps.” These are any items that can contain potentially infectious agents and can pierce the skin. They can include, but are not limited to: hypodermic needles, syringes, pipettes, scalpels, blades, broken glass and broken plastic.
A majority of the differences in local and state guidelines have to do with the containment, labeling, storing, transporting, and treatment of the medical waste. The companies responsible for pickup of biohazard waste know and comply with all laws and will only pickup this type of waste when it is in compliance with these rules. Some states have additional requirements for those that generate biohazard waste including state registration, special labeling practices, and maintaining up-to-date plans for medical waste.
While the state EPA will regulate environmental safety and treatment, transportation of biohazard waste falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Additionally, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) have guidelines for employee safety for handling, labeling, treatment, and containment of biohazard waste. OSHA requires that both generator and transporter have control plans for bloodborne pathogens exposure.
Due to the nature of sharps, they are given a high rate of attention so that they are contained, labeled, stored, picked up, treated to render them harmless, and disposed of properly. OSHA requires staff training on the proper packaging so that there aren’t any injuries or risk to injury. Sharps are typically placed in a biohazard bag that is securely tied and then placed into a container that is labeled with the biohazard symbol. The containers are filled to only 2/3 full to avoid injury and the bags that they are placed in are leak-proof and puncture proof. The containers must be identified so that the waste management removal company can transport them for treatment according to the state regulations.
Most states have enacted a prescription mail-back program that allows a generator to mail in old, expired, and unused prescriptions. These programs keep the medications from being emptied into the water system, as most waste management systems are not set up for the filtration of medication. It also assists in avoiding dangerous medications from entering landfills. Both conditions can harm people, animals, and the environment. Other states have a take back program that is scheduled at specific pharmacies, law enforcement, and/or hospitals. They are monitored by local law enforcement and are a location where all medicines can be dropped off without any questions asked.
Parent page – Biohazard Waste Disposal
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