Health and safety should be important to every business, but especially those withneeds. Medical waste can be extremely hazardous to our health, but also to the environment if it’s not handled and disposed of properly. There are several organizations and government departments that regulate medical waste disposal, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What Qualifies as Medical Waste?
These departments and agencies define substances that qualify for medical waste disposal as any waste that could be contaminated by infectious materials, such as blood or body fluid. This can also include medications and other medical substances. There are many items that could be counted as medical waste. Bandages and dressings could have blood and fluids on them as well as used gloves. Catheters, sharps, tissue, and lab vials are all examples of items that require proper disposal and thus need to be handled correctly. Biohazard waste is any type of medical waste that either is or could contain an infectious substance. As someone who works at a facility that uses these items, or even as someone who has them in your home, it is your responsibility to make sure that these things are segregated, handled, labeled, stored, and goes through the proper biohazard waste disposal procedures.
Containers For Disposal
Everything should be placed in the proper medical biohazard containers and prepared for safe disposal. There are several criteria that these containers must meet to be acceptable. For one, they must close tightly. Nothing should be able to leak out during any stage of the medical waste disposal process. The containers should also be puncture resistant. They also must be clearly labeled by the standards set out from the above agencies.
Beyond the obvious risks with improper medical waste disposal, which involve people getting infected by something and spreading disease, there are several risks that not everyone considers. For instance, there is a huge financial risk for facilities that fail to meet standards. They can be heavily fined if proper disposal methods are not followed. A loss of reputation can certainly hurt business in a big way. Also, you can leave yourself open to litigation if someone is to get infected or injured. You will then have to pay for damages, such as medical care and lost wages.
There may be times when your facility is inspected for its biohazard waste disposal procedures. These inspectors will be looking for clearly defined policies and procedures as well as making sure they are followed by the staff. They will also make sure you have enough supplies, including medical biohazard containers. You’ll need to provide documentation to staff and have evidence of receipt (usually by signature on a form) about how your waste is managed and handled. Education is important not just to show that your facility is compliant, but is consistently training on new requirements as the laws change. You may have to provide evidence of ongoing training to inspectors as well.
As you can see, proper waste disposal is not just vitally important, but can also be complicated and detailed. For this reason, many facilities contract the services of a medical waste disposal company to remain compliant and have their medical and biohazard waste picked up and treated prior to disposal.