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Medical Waste Regulations Kentucky

October 5, 2021

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Medical Waste in the State of Kentucky

Medical Waste Regulations Kentucky

Medical Waste Regulations Kentucky. The State of Kentucky is one of the states that does not have specific regulations as it pertains to medical waste. There isn’t a single agency that oversees medical waste, however, there are regulations that define handling, treatment, labeling, storage, transportation and disposal of medical waste. These state agencies often have responsibilities that overlap but share in the purpose of protecting people, the community, and the environment from contamination of potentially infectious wastes.

In Kentucky, there are at least six agencies that oversee medical wastes:

Although Kentucky doesn’t have specific environmental regulations as it pertains to medical/infectious wastes that are generated, they do have air quality regulations to medical waste incineration. The Division of Air Quality has a mandate that requires all medical waste incinerators must obtain a special permit before they can conduct medical waste incineration.

As with many states, where there aren’t any specific guidelines established for the handling, storage, and disposal of medical waste, all facilities and organizations involved in generating medical waste must default to the federal laws. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) provides some guidelines, as well as the DEA agencies, and FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines are used to protect workers.

“OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standards, in particular, impact various aspects of medical/infectious waste, including management of sharps, requirements for containers that hold or store medical/infectious waste, labeling of medical/infectious waste bags/containers, and employee training.”

Kentucky identifies medical waste under the term “characterization”

“Characterization: ​Medical waste in Kentucky is characterized as municipal solid waste and is subject to the same disposal requirements; therefore, it can legally be disposed of in a permitted contained landfill according to approved practices. It is important to note, however, that some medical waste may contain toxic chemicals, chemotherapy agents or radioactive materials and may be subject to state and federal regulations specific to hazardous wastes and radioactive wastes.”

Who Generates Medical Waste – Medical Waste Regulations Kentucky

The State of Kentucky identifies generators as:

“Generators: Generators of medical waste range from hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and laboratories to h​ouseholds and even illicit drug users.  Depending on the waste generator, treatment may or may not be required to render the waste non-infectious prior to disposal.”

Under the subset of Households:

“Households: Medical waste generated in households may be legally disposed of with regular household garbage. Nevertheless, waste collectors and disposal companies serving this sector should be aware of the potential for medical waste hazards.”

“Needles and Sharps: Safe disposal methods for needles and sharps generated as household medical waste include the following:

Place needles, syringes, lancets and other sharp objects in a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on lid. Laundry detergent bottles or metal coffee cans may be used or containers specifically designed for the disposal of medical sharps may be purchased. 

Medical Waste Storage Requirements

Kentucky’s medical waste handling and storage guidelines include:

“Handling, labeling and storing medical waste in the workplace: The risks associated with medical waste are especially important to those exposed to it in their jobs. Such occupations include healthcare, janitorial work, waste collection and landfill workers. The Kentucky Safety and Health (OSH) Program, under the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, regulates several aspects of medical waste including management of sharps, requirements for containers that hold or store medical waste, labeling of medical waste bags and containers, and employee training.”

Medical Waste Transport Requirements

“KRS 174.450 – Requires anyone who transports solid waste to a landfill, other than from a private residence, to register with the Transportation Cabinet.”

“Transportation of medical waste: In Kentucky, anyone who transports solid waste to a landfill is required to register with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (excepting from a private residence or a vehicle 10,000 pounds or less).  In addition to vehicle registration, collectors of municipal solid waste, including medical waste haulers, must register with and report annually to any county in which they do business. The registration and reporting form, DEP 5033, may be obtained from county solid waste coordinators or downloaded.”

Source Separation

The State of Kentucky “requires health care facilities including, but not limited to hospitals and nursing facilities, to segregate sharps and have specified wastes incinerated or rendered nonhazardous prior to disposal.”

“Disposal of medical waste: In Kentucky, medical waste is disposed of in the same manner as household waste, meaning that it can legally be disposed of in a permitted, contained landfill. Treatment and sterilization prior to disposal, however, depends on the type of facility that generates the waste. Hospitals, nursing homes and certain other public health facilities are required to segregate sharps and infectious waste from other waste and then incinerate or render nonhazardous before permanent disposal. Most sanitary landfills in Kentucky will not accept medical waste unless it has been treated at a medical waste transfer station prior to being transported.  Medical waste transfer stations and contained landfills are required to obtain a permit from the Kentucky Division of Waste Management. Permit requirements include the types of waste that may be accepted at contained landfills.”

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