Regulated medical waste (RMW) is also called “biohazardous waste” or “infectious waste” and is any waste that has been contaminated by body fluids, blood or any other materials that are potentially infectious that can be at risk of transmitting infection. In the 1980s the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) created the original baseline for RMW and the responsibility was then moved to the state level.
Each state has their own guidelines and laws for regulated waste removal and while a majority share many of the rules, there are some that differ. To make things a bit more confusing, there are often multiple agencies within each state that are responsible for various aspects of compliance. The importance of the individual state laws is necessary to understand the required methods of RMW removal. Professional medical waste removal companies are experts in knowing the laws of the states that they do business in and the requirements needed to comply with them.
The original two-year program designed by Congress in the 1980s as the Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) included:
• Identification of which wastes would be regulated.
• Establishment of a cradle-to-grave tracking system based on a generator-initiated tracking form.
• Requirement of management standards for segregation, packaging, labeling and storage of the waste.
• Establishment of record-keeping requirements.
• Defined penalties that could be imposed for mismanagement.
These baseline concepts acted as a model for each of the states as well as some of the federal agencies to develop their own medical waste
programs and the corresponding laws involved in RMW removal.
Almost all fifty states have enacted some form of RMW regulations. There is then a definition of hazardous versus non-hazardous RMW and this is where some of the guidelines alter from state to state. Hazardous medical waste removal is based on standards created by the federal RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act).
A majority of states have their own EPA that carries the responsibility for creating and enforcing management and disposal of medical was
te. There are a few states that have additional agencies that act as the primary role or a combination of all agencies that oversee management on-site and off-site as well as transportation and disposal. Most of the states also have laws established for packaging, labeling, storing, and transportation of medical waste.
There are states that require registration and/or permits for health care facilities and others have laws that require that contingency plans be developed, have on-site treatment, training, record keeping, tracking of waste, and reporting. It’s therefore critical that all information, laws and guidelines be known for the individual state.
While the federal arm of the EPA isn’t directly involved in RMW guidelines, most states have adopted regulations that emulate the original platform in their own state EPA. However, for certain types of medical waste disposal technologies, such as in the use of treating waste with chemicals, the FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide) laws are used for enforcement.
RMW removal also involves the DOT (Department of Transportation) guidelines for those companies involved in the removal of RMW as well as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for the control of infection.
Parent page – Medical Waste Disposal
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