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Medical Waste Best Practices

Medical Waste Best Practices. Below we have listed the best practices when generating medical waste.

  • Understand the laws and regulations for your area.
  • Compliance training for how to handle and dispose of medical waste in your facility.
  • Understand the color-coding system of your facilities medical waste containers.
  • PPE always use personal protection equipment when exposure is likely.
  • Segregate medical waste at the point of generation.
  • Use the appropriate containers for segregation, storage, and treatment.
  • Do not overfill containers.
  • Labeling and Packaging, it is the generators responsibility to properly label and package, secure medical waste for transportation.
  • Generator’s onsite storage requirements. Make sure you understand your local, state, and federal requirements for storing medical waste onsite.
  • Detailed Documentation for all medical waste generated, from when the container was first put into use, until its final disposal.
  • Use a professional medical waste management service like Bio-MED. We can help you in all areas of medical waste management from segregating, containers, color-coding, regulations for your specific area, labeling and packaging to transportation, treatment, and disposal.

Understand the Laws and Regulations for Your Area

Regulations often differ from state to state. For example, in Michigan. How your medical waste is packaged and the length of time it’s stored all fall within the strict guidelines of the Michigan DEQ. Proper packaging and containers for medical waste collection must always be in use. This includes how your waste is segregated also.

Did you know that your medical waste can only be stored onsite for no more than 90 days? If you are dealing with a medical waste management company that’s not reliable and missing your pickup dates, that could cause you to become noncompliant with local regulations. According to the Michigan DEQ regulations, the storage period begins on the date in which the container use is initiated.

Proper Training for Identifying Different Types of Medical Waste Your Facility Generates

This section is two parts but in general falls under the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 19.10-10.30. The first part is the Communication of Hazard to Employees this could be anything from MSDS/SDS sheets to proper labels on medical waste containers. It is the employers responsibility to document and train the employee concerning hazards in the workplace.

The next section is bloodborne pathogens standard training which is required on an annual basis to all employees who have occupational exposure at the workplace, any employee, temp employee, regardless of status, including part-time and temporary employees, they are to be trained on company time.

Compliance Training for How to Handle and Dispose of Medical Waste in Your Facility

Medical Waste Best Practices

A solid online compliance training program should be utilized to ensure your facility has the required documentation to satisfy any OSHA or other legal inspection. Online compliance training programs will provide you with an online portal, that holds all of your training records, can assign training in a group or to individuals, will notify you of employees training statuses, training completed, training coming up and hold all of the certificates of completion. This program will also provide the latest regulations concerning medical waste and holds 100s of thousands of MSDS/SDS sheets. Example exposure control plans and medical waste management plans are available in the portal.

Your facility must be able to prove training was given and completed successfully to each and every employee who requires it.

Understand The Color-coding System of Your Facilities Medical Waste Containers

Color-Coding is an easy way to identify the appropriate container to use. The medical waste color-coding system generally follows the colors below.

Gray – Non-hazardous regular everyday office garbage.

Red – Blood, tissue, and sharps waste.

Yellow – Clinical waste that is infectious.

Orange – Anything that is highly infectious.

Blue – Pharmaceuticals and medicines.

Black – RCRA Hazardous. 

Purple – Cytotoxic medicines.

White – Waste from a dental source.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

As Per the OSHA standard 1910.1030(d)(3)(i)  When there is occupational exposure, the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection, and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices.

Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through to or reach the employee’s work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be used.

Segregate Medical Waste at The Point of Generation

Segregate wastes at the source to minimize the volume of actual regulated medical waste (RMW).  Further, isolate RMW that must be incinerated; depending on state regulations, at least a small portion of biohazardous waste, including sharps, may have to be incinerated. This will likely include pathological wastes and wastes contaminated with small amounts of chemotherapy substances.

Use Appropriate Containers

Regulated waste shall be placed in containers which are: Closable, constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport, or shipping, Labeled or color-coded in accordance with OSHA Standards, closed prior to removal to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping. Disposal of all regulated waste shall be in accordance with applicable regulations of the United States, States and Territories, and political subdivisions of States and Territories.

Do Not Overfill Containers

Overfilling containers or pushing waste down in a regulated medical waste container is dangerous. All medical waste containers, even sharps containers have a full mark or weight limit. In General only fill to full mark of container, if no full mark is present only fill the medical waste container three quarters full or not beyond the containers weight limit.

Labeling and Packaging Medical Waste

Labeling and Packaging of medical waste can vary from state to state. Some general requirements are. Biohazard waste container labeling is very specific for the waste that is to be transported. The generator is required to mark on two exterior opposite sides of the containers in lettering that is legible and can be read at a minimum of 10 feet in distance, The word “BIOHAZARD”, The word “SHARPS” (if the container holds sharps), and to have the International Biohazard Symbol. Most medical waste management companies provide this on the containers, so the generator does not need to do anything additional.

The generator is responsible for securing a water-resistant tag or label to each container and to have the following written in indelible ink: The name, address, and phone number of the generator as well as any 24-hour phone number when available.

Licensed transporters are required to affix a label to each container that includes: the transporter’s name, permit number, address, phone number, and any 24-hour phone number when available. For each container the transporter must include the date when the container left the site of the generator. Check with your medical waste management company to see if they provide stickers.

Packaging Medical Waste

Medical waste must be placed in containers that are, sturdy, rigid, leak-resistant, strong enough to prevent bursting or tearing under normal handling and transport conditions, impervious to moisture, and can be sealed to prevent leakage during transport processes.

Generator’s Onsite Storage Requirements

Medical wastes requiring storage should be kept in labeled, leak-proof, puncture-resistant containers under conditions that minimize or prevent foul odors. Medical waste storage areas should be secured from unauthorized access, properly marked and ventilated, only store medical waste, and must also prevent contact with water, wind, rain, and animals. This area cannot become a breeding ground for rodents and insects.


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