The term “sharps” is used to describe any item that can pierce the skin and can contain or potentially contains a dangerous transmittable pathogen. While a majority of sharps are used in the medical and healthcare industry, they are also used by private citizens in treatment of disease states. Some of the medical conditions can include but are not limited to cancer, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, migraines, hepatitis, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS, psoriasis, infertility, and blood clotting disorders. Due to the dangers of sharps, there are various state-specific laws regarding the handling and disposal of sharps.
Sharps come in a variety of forms including but not limited to: hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, knives, scalpels, infusion sets, auto-injectors, and connection/needle sets, broken glass and plastic. The regulations established by state and federal guidelines are designed to protect humans and the environment from the transmission of deadly diseases.
Healthcare Waste Management proudly services ten states in the Midwest region and complies with all of the individual state regulations. As a premier medical waste disposal company our team ensures that all clients are informed, educated, and supplied with the proper equipment for sharps handling and we offer OSHA-approved 24/7 online training for employees.
States require that the containers used for sharps be FDA-cleared, rigid, leak-proof, puncture-proof, have a top that can be sealed and is small enough so that only the sharps can be dropped in. Most states require the use of the universal biohazard label on the exterior and/or words used to identify that the contents are dangerous biohazard materials. Containers should only be filled to the 2/3 mark to avoid accidents and injuries.
Most states also require applications for permits and certifications to be allowed to process sharps and there may or may not be fees involved. Many states will only accept sharps in approved landfills if/when they have been treated by an approved process and are rendered harmless. Whenever there is a lack of specific guidelines, laws or rules on the state level, the federal guidelines are applied and all generators of sharps and any other type of infectious waste must comply with the laws.
States are very specific in stating that it is a crime to place sharps in with any trash, garbage, or recycling.
Various states require both generators and licensed medical waste transporters to maintain records for the dates, times, and volume of sharps/infectious waste pickups and/or drop off to collection sites.
States have created their specific laws regarding handling, storage, and disposal of sharps and these regulations work in conjunction with the various federal organizations and laws such as:
CDC (Center for Disease Control)
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
DOT (Department of Transportation)
Whenever a state does not have specific regulations, the requirements default to federal guidelines.
The state of Illinois classifies medical waste into the following categories and each have specific guidelines and rules for how the waste is to be handled and disposed of:
The guidelines established in the Illinois Landfills Special Requirements section state:
“must be eliminated and the sharps must either be rendered unrecognizable or packaged in accordance with the regulations prior to disposal.”
Illinois requires that sharps are defined as PIMW and must be placed in FDA-cleared sharps containers. Healthcare organizations that are generators of sharps are required by State of Illinois law to select a medical waste disposal company that complies with state guidelines. Private individuals can make use of state drop-off points that are supplied for sharps.
Indiana requires that sharps be placed in an FDA-cleared sharps container. For private sharps use it’s recommended that a rigid container such as a laundry detergent bottle be used.
The State of Indiana refers to proper disposal of sharps with the term “effective treatment.” This means that the treatment is required to meet the following conditions:
Private generators of sharps can contact their county to get the location of the nearest drop off point may be for their sharps containers. Larger generators are responsible for contracting with a professional and licensed medical waste disposal company such as Healthcare Waste Management to arrange pickup and disposal.
Although the State of Iowa complies with federal guidelines on sharps containers, Iowa doesn’t have any set standards for the destruction and disposal of sharps. Instead, sharps containers can be placed in county landfills based on the specific regulations of each landfill. Private citizens can also make use of any designated sharps drop-off or mail-in programs available to them.
Since there are no set guidelines for sharps destruction, it is up to larger generators to contract with certified medical waste disposal companies such as Healthcare Waste Management for scheduled pickups.
Kentucky doesn’t have any specific regulations that pertain to medical waste as well as no single agency that has jurisdiction over medical waste. The state does have regulations regarding the characterization, treatment, handling, labeling, storage, transport and disposal of this waste type. However, Kentucky does have regulations as it pertains to potentially infectious materials so that they are rendered non-hazardous. Generators must contract with a licensed and certified medical waste disposal company such as Healthcare Waste Management so that infectious waste has been treated such as autoclaving prior to being placed in an approved landfill. In some cases, certain medical waste is still incinerated, although this is becoming less popular due to air pollutants.
The State of Kentucky characterizes medical waste as municipal solid waste which is subject to the same requirements for disposal and can be legally disposed of in permitted contained landfills according to the practices that are approved. Any medical waste that contains chemicals that are toxic, chemotherapy agents, or radioactive materials may be subject to state and federal laws that are specific to hazardous and radioactive wastes.
Michigan has the regulatory agency of the DEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) that governs the laws for medical waste and the MWRP (Medical Waste Regulatory Program) that administers the rules. The MWRP is responsible for managing the practices of handling, storage, treatment and disposal of medical waste.
A generator is known as a “producing facility” in Michigan. The State of Michigan categorizes medical waste as:
Private citizens can make use of state or county approved drop-off points for sharps containers. Other generators must contract with a certified and licensed medical waste disposal company to comply with state laws for disposal. Professional disposal companies such as Healthcare Waste Management comply with Michigan guidelines by autoclaving sharps as a method of decontamination as well as other approved processes such as chemical treatments, thermal inactivation, dry heat, shredding, and microwave shredding.
Under the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), Minnesota regulates all waste that poses an environment danger due to biological risk in the same manner as infectious waste. MCPA refers to wastes that are both infectious and hazardous by the term “dual waste” and it must comply with both the hazardous and infectious waste requirements. Sharps fall into the category of duel waste.
Private individuals can take advantage of any of the mail-in or drop off locations for sharps, however, the State of Minnesota requires organizations or businesses to contract with a licensed medical waste disposal company for pickup to render the sharps harmless.
Contracting with a professional medical waste disposal company such as Healthcare Waste Management will allow a generator to comply with state guidelines through the autoclaving sterilization process.
Missouri classifies sharps as “infectious waste” which is regulated under the Missouri Solid Waste Management Law by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as well as the Department of Health and Senior Services.
The State of Missouri does offer mail-back programs for private individuals and some small generators under specific conditions; however, larger generators are required to contract with a certified and licensed medical waste disposal company.
Missouri does not allow any infectious waste such as sharps to be placed into a solid waste disposal area except as otherwise provided for unless it has been treated or rendered innocuous by a permitted infectious waste processing facility. The processes include autoclaving, chemical disinfection, incineration, or other department-approved methods of treatment. Some hospitals have on-site processing facilities that are approved for sharps to render them harmless.
Ohio classifies sharps as “infectious waste” and requires that generators comply with the rules and guidelines for this type of waste. The State of Ohio does allow private individuals to make use of the various drop-off locations that are available in many counties for their sharps containers. The transportation of infectious or hazardous materials in Ohio is overseen by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Codes for Ohio indicates that any organization that generates over 50 pounds of infectious waste must make use of either a licensed and certified medical waste disposal company or use an approved and registered on-site treatment facility. Common treatments for infectious waste such as sharps can include heat encapsulation, and some chemical treatments.
Sharps handling, storage, and disposal are overseen by the Rules of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Solid Waste Management under Chapter 1200-1-7-04 rules. The State of Tennessee defines sharps as “special waste” and requires special handling.
Residents in Tennessee are allowed to use the various county-wide take-back programs to drop off their sharps containers.
Organizations or businesses that generate larger volumes of sharps must dispose of the special waste in a permitted landfill or contract with a licensed medical waste disposal company to have the special waste processed at a facility that is permitted. This requires a special waste approval from the SWM (Tennessee Division of Solid Waste Management.)
There are pre-existing regulations for infectious waste incinerators that apply, however, whenever there is information lacking on proper disposal regulations or if they aren’t specific, the federal laws will apply.
Maintaining control over the disposal of sharps and other infectious materials is the responsibility of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin has established collection stations throughout the state for individuals and businesses that generate less than 50 lbs per month.
Organizations or businesses that generate more than 50 lbs of sharps/infectious waste per month must contract with a licensed and certified medical waste disposal company such as Healthcare Waste Management. Pickups can be conveniently scheduled, and the sharps waste will be taken to a licensed and permitted facility where they will be treated and rendered harmless.
The benefits of selecting Healthcare Waste Management as your licensed and certified medical waste disposal partner includes:
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