10 Facts About Medical Waste Compliance
To understand the details of medical waste compliance, you should be familiar with some of the compliance facts.
Poor management of medical waste potentially exposes health care workers, waste handlers, patients, and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and injuries, and also risks polluting the environment. Compliance is one of the hot button topics in the medical waste management industry. To understand the details of medical waste compliance, you should be familiar with some of these compliance facts –
- Medical waste isn’t exclusive to healthcare facilities
While the term medical waste seems to indicate its exclusivity to healthcare facilities, this simply isn’t true. Medical waste is a general term that refers to waste that is infectious. Tattoo parlors, veterinary practices, funeral homes, and long-term care facilities are also held to the same stringent standards as hospitals and doctor practices, as these businesses produce waste that pose a threat to people and the environment.
- Red bag waste refers to a specific kind of medical waste.
Any item that contains liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) falls under the definition of red bag waste. Red plastic bags must be of a specified thickness that is leak and tear resistant, and must be labeled with the international biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARDOUS.”
- There are a specific set of requirements as outlined by OSHA for medical waste compliance.
On the Federal level, the storage and management of medical waste is primarily regulated by OSHA. The OSHA regulations only apply to human blood, human infectious wastes, and human pathological wastes. OSHA also requires staff training, including minimizing employee exposure with work practice controls and use of personal protective equipment. The list of OSHA requirements is exhaustive, but MedXwaste offers an online OSHA Compliance Program that details current regulations, data sheets, safety plan builders, and more.
- Packaging and transportation are part of the compliance and regulation picture.
Medical waste cannot be tossed in the regular trash, nor can it be transported by your municipal waste management company. Infectious waste must be transported in rigid containers that have been approved by the Department of Transportation. These containers are leak-proof, spill-proof, puncture resistant and reusable.
- Medical waste must be categorized for compliance.
Categorizing medical waste is essential for compliance. Failure to do so not only compromises the health of your staff and patients, it is illegal. Medical waste must be properly categorized as hazardous or nonhazardous waste. Labels have to describe a container’s category, and must visible on all sides.
- Packaging and containers should be inspected regularly.
You may be compliant with your packaging, but how old is your packaging and labeling and have you checked to ensure its rigidity? It is imperative to inspect your hazardous waste containers every week to ensure they are uncompromised. Managers should keep a log for an inspector to fill out, fully disclosing the inspection, and signed with their initials and date of inspection.
- Putting waste in the wrong container can impose serious risks.
Sharps shouldn’t go in red bag waste, and red bag waste shouldn’t go into a pharmaceutical waste receptacle. Sharps must be discarded and stored in a sharps container. Dripable or pourable contents must be stored in a red bag waste bag. Pills must be disposed of in a sealed plastic container labeled pharmaceutical waste.
- Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Do you have an emergency response plan in the event of a medical waste emergency? Any facility with potentially hazardous waste must write an emergency response plan detailing the procedures to take. OSHA requires that all facilities have a safety plan builder. Does your facility’s emergency preparedness plan rely on the hope that there won’t be an emergency? Simply put, failing to have a plan is planning for failure.
- Emergency response numbers must be listed on medical waste management manifests for transporters.
Lacking a number or improperly providing a number not only poses a health and safety risk, but it also makes the waste generator and transporter liable to consequences for federal noncompliance.
- Working with a certified medical waste removal expert can help you maintain compliance.
When you work with MedXwaste, you are working with a company who can help you manage all of your medical and pharmaceutical waste disposal needs. We can ensure your staff’s safety and your company’s regulatory compliance.