Medical Waste Generators. In addition to educating staff on the proper procedures for handling medical waste or worse case a leak or breach, compliance officers should be aware of the emergency actions needed to take in case of a breach. It is not something we think of, but it does happen and being prepared is the first step in the process. Supplies and equipment should be ready for use, and their condition should be monitored frequently to ensure that they are complete and functioning properly.
The safeguarding of people, pets, and the environment from biohazardous communicable illnesses are dependent on proper medical waste disposal. Those who generate medical waste should follow local, state, and federal guidelines. As well as federal rules, each state has its laws that define and complement them.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), DOT (Department of Transportation), and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are among the federal agencies with which medical waste generators must cohere, in addition to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), DOT (Department of Transportation), and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
Medical waste generators are responsible for ensuring a safe “cradle to grave” management of the waste they generate. They must follow all regulations from the moment the waste is created through every phase of handling, storing, transporting, and treatment & disposal. Noncompliance may cause fines from several agencies, which may run up to tens of thousands, per violation, per day and higher.
Proper medical waste management starts with training, compliance training, policies and procedures training, correctly identifying the types of medical waste by employees and much more.
The Medical Waste Tracking Act guidelines were established in the late 1980s with the MWTA of 1988, after an increase in cases of medical materials that were found in the environment. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Medical Waste Tracking Act have been broadened so that state and national government officials may monitor, track, and get approved for the safe handling and disposal of medical waste.
All regulations attempt to produce a controlled waste stream that complies with all laws so that people, animals, the community, and the environment are safeguarded from dangerous infections. Fines may be imposed by multiple agencies if an organization or company does not comply with the law. If a healthcare institution or facility produces medical waste, following medical waste best practices can assure that your facility is in compliance with the law and keep people and the environment safe.
Medical waste may be produced from hospitals, physician offices, dentists, veterinarians, laboratories, coroners, funeral homes, nursing facilities, medical research facilities, blood banks and even tattoo shops and more. Medical waste is any substance containing blood, bodily fluids, or other potentially infectious material, which is exposed or contaminated. Other names for medical waste are biohazardous waste, clinical waste, biomedical waste, infectious waste, OPIM (other potentially infectious materials), and PIMW (potentially infectious medical waste).
OSHA defines Regulated Medical Waste in OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (BBP) it has defined medical waste by federal laws (29 CFR 1910.1030). However, every state has its own definition of medical waste as it pertains to that state, OSHAs bloodborne pathogens standard defines medical waste for the purpose of worker safety, in the workplace.
“Material that is potentially infectious in liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; material caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials that may release these materials during handling; contaminated sharp items; and pathological and microbiological waste containing blood or other potentially infectious material.”
In addition to regulated medical waste, OPIMs (Other potentially infectious materials) must be collected, treated, and disposed of:
The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, and all fluids visibly contaminated with blood, as well as all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to distinguish between body fluids; (2) any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and (3) HIV- or HBV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions, as well as blood, organs, and other tissues from laboratory animals infected with HIV or HBV.
OSHA is uncertain if “saturation” is the distinguishing characteristic between non-regulated and regulated medical waste. It is always prudent to throw away all blood-soiled material as regulated medical waste to ensure safety.
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