All states in the United States have established strict guidelines for the handling, storage, and disposal of medical waste. Medical waste isn’t covered by the U.S. federal environmental laws or the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) unless the medical waste also meets the hazardous waste definition. Wisconsin identifies medical waste as being controlled by state law and the regulations associated with the definitions. Medical waste is also governed by the state environment agency rules/laws, with some aspects controlled by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration), both federal and/or state, as well as DOT (Department of Transportation), both federal and state.
The state of Wisconsin identifies both infectious waste as any item that could pass infectious diseases to people, animals or the environment and medical waste as infectious waste plus any non-infectious waste that could be mixed with them:
Infectious waste means solid waste that contains pathogens with sufficient virulence and in sufficient quantity that exposure of a susceptible human or animal to the solid waste could cause the human or animal to contract an infectious disease [s. 287.07(7)(c)1.c., Wis. Stats.]. These can include but are not limited to:
Medical waste means infectious waste, as defined above, and other waste that contains or may be mixed with infectious waste [s. 299.51(1)(b), Wis. Stats.]. These can include but are not limited to:
While a majority of the medical waste is generated within the healthcare industry, there are other types of organizations and businesses that generate medical waste. Medical waste can be generated in any facility that has exposure to human or animal blood or tissues that could have infectious contaminants. Facilities can be individual businesses such as: Physician’s offices, veterinary clinics, tattoo parlors, body piercing, dental offices, pharmacies, and mortuaries. Midsized organizations that generate medical waste can include blood banks, university and scientific research and laboratories, the coroner, nursing homes, pharmaceutical laboratories, and multi-physician clinics. Hospitals are some the largest institution type that generates medical waste.
The State of Wisconsin: NR 526.09(4) – Storing and transferring infectious waste
Minimum requirements for all persons storing infectious waste. No person may operate or maintain an infectious waste storage facility unless the storage area meets all of the following requirements:
(a) The storage area shall be kept clean and be impermeable to liquids. Carpeted areas or wooden floors may not be used in storage areas.
(b) The storage area designated for infectious waste may contain only infectious wastes and their containers. The storage area may be an area designated within a room.
(c) The storage area shall be in an enclosed building, container or vehicle so that the infectious waste is not exposed to weather.
(d) Access to the storage area shall be limited to authorized personnel.
(e) Nuisance conditions shall be prevented from developing. Appropriate measures shall be taken to prevent odors, including but not limited to refrigerating the infectious waste below 42° Fahrenheit until treated.
(f) If the infectious waste is to be treated off-site, the operator of the infectious waste storage facility shall relinquish the infectious waste only to an infectious waste transporter licensed by the department or to a person exempt from licensing under s. NR 526.10 (2).
(g) The containers of infectious waste shall be removed and emptied as necessary, but at least every 90 days.
(h) The operator of the infectious waste storage facility shall keep records of how much and where the infectious waste has been sent off-site. Records may consist of any of the following: copies of infectious waste manifests, invoices, logs or other written documentation of the amount of infectious waste sent off-site for treatment.
The State of Wisconsin: NR 526.10 Transportation and shipping. No person may transport or ship infectious waste in Wisconsin unless adequate measures are taken to protect waste handlers, the public and the environment from exposure to the infectious waste, and all of the following requirements are met:
(1) Licenses. Except as provided in sub. (2), no person may transport infectious waste or operate or maintain an infectious waste transportation service unless the person has obtained an infectious waste transportation license from the department for each vehicle and complies with both the minimum transportation requirements in sub. (3) and the operating requirements for licensed infectious waste transporters in sub. (4). To apply for an operating license, the applicant shall submit an application form and the infectious waste transportation license fee according to s. NR 520.04, Table 2.
(2) Exemptions. Persons who meet any of the following conditions are exempt from licensing under this section, but shall meet the minimum requirements for transporting infectious waste in sub. (3):
(a) Persons transporting infectious waste only on private roads on the same property where the infectious waste was generated and using vehicles or covered carts owned or leased by the infectious waste generator.
(am) Persons transporting infectious waste only on private roads between the property where the infectious waste was generated and a contiguous property, and using vehicles or covered carts owned or leased by either the infectious waste generator and the owner of the contiguous property.
(b) Persons transporting less than 50 pounds of infectious waste per calendar month.
(c) Persons operating vehicles owned or leased by the United States postal service and handling infectious waste sent through the mail.
(d) Persons operating vehicles owned by a parcel carrier service for which infectious waste constitutes an incidental portion of the carrier’s business, if the infectious waste is handled in accordance with all applicable state and federal regulations.
(e) Persons transporting infectious waste through Wisconsin who are not stopping to collect, drop off or transfer the infectious waste, and who handle the infectious waste in accordance with all applicable state and federal regulations.
(3) Minimum requirements for all persons transporting infectious waste. No person may transport infectious waste unless the person complies with all of the following minimum requirements:
(a) The infectious waste shall be contained according to the requirements of s. NR 526.07.
(b) The infectious waste shall be handled according to the requirements of s. NR 526.08.
(c) The vehicle used to transport the infectious waste shall meet all of the following requirements:
(d) The person shall transport the infectious waste only to solid waste facilities which are one of the following:
Note: Other transportation regulations, such as USDOT standards, may also apply. For more information, contact USDOT helpline at 1-800-467-4922.
(4) Operating requirements for licensed infectious waste transporters. Infectious waste transporters which are required to be licensed by the department shall comply with all the following requirements in addition to those in sub. (3):
(a) Each vehicle shall have “WDNR” followed by the infectious waste transportation license number lettered on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. The letters shall be at least 2 inches high with a minimum of 1/2 inch brush stroke. The lettering shall contrast with the background so it is easy to read.
(b) Vehicles or containers used for the collection or transportation of infectious waste shall be durable and easy to clean.
(c) Each vehicle hauling infectious waste shall carry a written contingency plan for spills and accidents and shall carry tools and materials sufficient to implement the contingency plan. In case of spill or accident, the driver shall implement the contingency plan immediately after spillage occurs and follow the provisions of s. 292.11, Stats.
(d) The portion of the vehicle where the infectious waste is placed shall be cleaned and disinfected before hauling materials other than infectious waste, solid waste or supplies related to managing waste.
(e) The person transporting the infectious waste shall sign all manifests which accompany the infectious waste, even if the waste is exempt from manifesting under s. NR 526.14 (2), and deliver the manifests to the next person who handles the waste.
(f) If infectious waste is not accompanied by an infectious waste manifest, the person transporting the waste shall initiate an infectious waste manifest for that waste, unless the person transporting the waste hauls less than 50 pounds of unmanifested infectious waste per month.
(5) Changes in service. Licensed infectious waste transporters shall notify the department in writing of all significant changes in service. The written notice shall be given to the department’s area or district office at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the change. If the change was not anticipated, the written notice shall be sent within 30 days after the change first occurred. Changes in service to individual clients or in the routes driven are not significant changes in service. All of the following actions are “significant changes in service”:
(a) Adding a vehicle.
(b) Replacing a vehicle.
(c) Changing the destination to which the infectious waste is hauled.
(d) Expanding the service area into another county.
(e) Terminating service.
History: Cr. Register, October, 1994, No. 466, eff. 11-1-94, am. (1), (3) (c) 4., Register, June, 1996, No. 486, eff. 7-1-96; correction in (2) (f) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register April 2013 No. 688.
The State of Wisconsin NR 526.07 Containment. No person may transport infectious waste from the property where the waste was generated unless the person puts the waste in a container which protects waste handlers and other persons from exposure to the infectious waste and the person meets all of the following requirements:
(1) Sharps shall be contained in rigid, puncture-resistant labeled containers made of materials including but not limited to metal or rigid plastic, designed to prevent the loss of the contents and labeled with a visible bio- hazard emblem or with the visible words “bio-hazard”, “sharps” or “infectious waste”.
(2) Infectious waste other than sharps shall be contained according to all of the following:
(a) The waste shall be placed in a single plastic bag that meets or exceeds 165 grams resistance by the ASTM method D1709-04 and is tear resistant using method ASTM method D1922-03a, or, if necessary, a double bag that meets the same standards, or a rigid reusable container.
Note: These testing methods are entitled “Standard Test Methods for Impact Resistance of Plastic Film by the Free-Falling Dart Method” and “Standard Test Method for Propagation Tear Resistance of Plastic Film and Thin Sheeting by Pendulum Method” respectively. Copies are available for inspection at the central office of the department of natural resources and the offices of the secretary of state and the legislative reference bureau. Copies may be obtained from ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA, 19428-2959 USA, www.astm.org, phone number 610-832-9585.
(b) The bag or rigid reusable container shall be securely sealed to prevent leakage or expulsion of the contents under normal handling.
(c) Any bag containing infectious waste shall be placed in a rigid container, including but not limited to a corrugated cardboard container, a covered reusable container or a covered cart. The rigid container shall be labeled with a visible bio-hazard emblem and the word “bio-hazard”. Bulk containers shall be small enough to be handled by a single person.
(3) No person may open a secured container of infectious waste which is ready for transportation until immediately before treating the waste, unless repacking is necessary to prevent spills or leakage, or the person is conducting a waste audit or training session.
(4) All reusable containers shall be disinfected after being emptied. No person may open, empty or clean a reusable sharps container by hand.
History: Cr. Register, October, 1994, No. 466, eff. 11-1-94; am. (intro.), Register, June, 1996, No. 486, eff. 7-1-96; CR 05-020: am. (2) (a) and (c), r. (2) (d), cr. (4) Register January 2006 No. 601, eff. 2-1-06.
Parent page – Medical Waste Disposal
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