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Healthcare waste currently tops over 6 billion tons each year and experts feel that COVID-19 will cause this number to become increasingly larger. As the medical community becomes more stressed and the quantity of patients become greater, the already tenuous dangers involving healthcare waste may end up causing accidents and incidents that could have been avoided.
All facilities that deal with healthcare waste have very specific guidelines in place to assist in protecting people, animals, the community and the environment. There are additional local and state guidelines that generators of healthcare waste must comply with to help to ensure against the transmission of infection. A majority of facilities make use of licensed, trained and professional healthcare waste disposal companies to ensure that all waste complies with the laws.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a majority of healthcare waste is generated by:
To understand the dangers of healthcare waste, you need to know the various types of waste and how they may cause transmission of various diseases. Healthcare waste and waste by-products encapsulate a variety of materials and items and are divided into the following categories:
Health risks due to healthcare waste can encapsulate human, animal, and environmental, and each one is integrally connected with the other. Contamination of infectious waste in a landfill can leak into the ecosystem and affect people and animals. Healthcare waste such as infected microorganisms, especially those that are drug resistant enter the community, it can potentially cause infections that could lead to pandemics.
A joint WHO/UNICEF 2015 assessment resulted in finding that only 58% of the facilities sampled in 24 countries had adequate systems in place for the safe healthcare waste disposal.
Health care waste and by-products that can cause adverse conditions can include but are not limited to:
The importance of disposing of sharps safely is critical as they create a high risk of infection and injury. It’s estimated that there are 16 billion injections given every year around the world. The quantity of injections using contaminated needles and syringes in poorer countries has been substantially reduced, but even with the reduction, 2010 studies showed that unsafe injections were responsible for as many as 1.8 million new hepatitis infections, 33,800 HIV infections, and 315,000 hepatitis C infections.
Other hazards with sharps happen due to improper disposal at sites and people scavenging the sites and getting needle-stick injuries, and during manual handling or sorting healthcare facility hazardous waste resulting in being exposed to infectious or toxic materials.
Every healthcare facility needs to be proactive to ensure that all healthcare waste is handled, treated, and disposed of properly. Local, state, and federal guidelines and laws must be strictly followed. There are many actions that can be taken by healthcare facilities to ensure that safety of individuals, the community and the environment.
One of the first and most important parts of any strategy involves the individuals within the healthcare facility. Compliance training requires being aware of local, state, and federal guidelines. Many states have established their own criteria that acts in addition to federal laws. The agencies involved in compliancy can include: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DOT (Department of Transportation).
It’s recommended that part of the healthcare facility strategy includes having specific individuals that take all of the compliancy training and maintain updated training and include the training for all staff members.
Employee education is a requirement in many states by their OSHA as a condition for hiring as well as an updated training each year. This is a critical step in making sure that all staff members are protected as well as for the protection of patients. Training should include identifying the various types of medical waste, and the handling, treatment, storage in appropriate containers, labeling, and transportation of all medical waste.
Training should also emphatically emphasize the critical nature of each step and the disastrous hazards that can occur if shortcuts are taken.
There is a level of intensity when it comes to healthcare waste management for any facility that is a generator. By law they are required to be responsible and accountable in a concept known as cradle-to-grave. This means that from the moment of generating the waste management to the moment it is rendered harmless, the facility is responsible for all aspects of ensuring that dealing with the waste complies with all laws and guidelines.
A healthcare facility bears the incredible weight for medical waste and one of the biggest ways to ensure safety and efficacy is by hiring a full service waste management company. When researching a waste management disposal company they must be licensed, trained, insured, and knowledgeable of all local, state, and federal laws. Some of these companies hire third parties for transportation and final treatment and destruction. This adds yet another layer for potential accidents or misuse.
The best option is to use a full service medical waste disposal company that takes care of everything in-house. This means that they own the trucks, train the drivers, and are responsible for pickup, delivery to their own plant areas for treatment, resulting in rendering the medical waste harmless, and final disposal at a sterile landfill. A full service disposal company complies with all laws, maintains all documents, and supplies a generator with all paperwork needed in case of audit.
One of the biggest concerns for the healthcare industry is in having the appropriate containers that are safe for staff to use. A full-service medical waste disposal company will address the safety issues involved in sharps containers with specially designed containers that add an extra level to keep employees from the dangers of sharps and offer replacement containers at the moment of pickup. Full-service medical waste disposal companies offer the one thing that is priceless: peace of mind. The flexible pickup schedules can meet the demands of a busy healthcare facility of any size.
Another benefit of full-service medical waste disposal companies is in the employee training that they supply to the customer. The training sessions are video training that can be accomplished on an individual or group basis. Each staff member will receive their own training center to view assignments, training history, and certificates. There is also an “Administration View” that gives an office manager the ability to conduct group training, assign training, view employee status and certificates, send reminders, and import employees. These sessions can be a great relief for every healthcare facility.
Specific attention is now given to medical waste disposal companies that are licensed and permitted by the EPA, IDEM, and DOT. This equates to the understanding that they go above and beyond compliancy and take disposal so seriously that they ensure that all staff receives maximum training. Full-service medical waste disposal companies are looking to the future for the latest and safest innovations in technology as well as focusing on safe practices that are ecologically beneficial. Their goal is to eliminate environmental risk, assure customer awareness, and address the serious requirements of healthcare medical waste disposal.
Each of these traits have been elevated to new heights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s anticipated that the already burgeoning volume of medical waste will continue to increase and it may only be the full service medical waste disposal companies that will be able to handle to overload, while complying with all guidelines and laws.
Full-service medical waste disposal companies already have a business model that successfully accomplishes the handling, treatment, and disposal of medical waste from pickup to final disposal in a safe, appropriate and compliant manner, while also working with customers for their safety.
Parent page – Medical Waste Disposal
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