Medical waste can pose a hazardous threat to people, animals, the community and the environment. Specific guidelines and laws have been established by each state for safety and protection. Regulation requirements also include compliance with federal laws and involve the safe handling, storage, treatment, and safe disposal of biohazardous waste. Additional safety protocols have been established by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to keep staff and the general public from exposure to potential contamination. Federal laws established by DOT (Department of Transportation) are required by anyone that transports medical waste.
Each state has specific requirements that may include fees and licenses for both generators and those that transport and dispose of medical waste. Each state has created their own detailed medical waste management program that contains the various parts to ensure that all medical waste is kept from transmitting potentially infectious diseases. Some of the major portions of a medical waste management program can include but are not limited to:
• Definition and understanding of ownership of medical waste.
• Defined as per state rules for variations between large and small medical waste generators.
• Understanding of the generator responsibility for medical waste in the cradle-to-grave concept.
• Generators of medical waste, managers on site, departments involved in dealing with, handling, storage, and disposal of medical waste.
• Contact individuals: primary, backup, after-hours/emergency contact.
• Types of medical waste that is generated.
• Clear definitions and understanding of all medical waste.
• Medical waste accumulation and separation rules for solid, liquid and combined medical waste as well as sharps waste and specific storage guidelines.
• Requirements for labeling and storage containers for each type of medical waste.
• Specific rules for on-site treatment and disposal of medical waste for: solid, liquid, and combined medical waste as well as sharps waste and allowed time duration of storage.
• Record retention for generator, transporter, and treatment for all medical waste based on the number of years required by the individual state for audit.
• Employee/staff/personnel training guidelines based on OSHA requirements.
• Procedures for emergency actions taken for spills, leaks, or personnel exposures for contamination.
• Creation of completely outfitted emergency action materials needed to reduce/eliminate exposure to potentially infectious agents, including required PPE (Personal protective equipment)
• On-site treatment facility guidelines and requirements including specific state permissible acceptance of medical waste from outside sources.
• A plan in case of facility closure that includes all equipment, facilities, and non-disposable items that were used as part of medical or research.
• Specific requirements for vehicles transporting medical waste that includes cleaning, sterilization, and staff training and licensing.
• Emergency procedures for medical waste transporters in case of leak or disaster before, during or after transport.
• Dedicated guidelines for treatment plants that comply with environmental safety laws, proof of transitioning medical waste to non-infectious state and records of final disposal locations.
• Treatment facility compliance for sterilization procedures.
• Emergency procedures for equipment failure, leaks or exposure at treatment facilities.
• Natural disaster protocols for generators, transporters and medical waste treatment facilities.
• Where permissible, decontamination procedures for reusable secondary containers for medical waste.
Parent page – Medical Waste Disposal
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