A look at Delaware medical waste requirements.
Nearly all 50 states have enacted medical waste regulations, many of which are based on the federal RCRA standards. Of course, state medical waste standards vary diversely. Here is how medical waste is handled in the state of Delaware.
In Delaware, medical waste requirements are managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and under the Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances.
Most states have regulations covering packaging, storage, and transportation of medical waste. The state of Delaware states that medical waste, or infectious waste, may not be stored at the waste producing facility for more than 14 days at room temperature. If it is refrigerated, medical waste cannot exceed 45 days. For freezer storage, medical waste cannot exceed 90 days.
The only exception to this rule is sharps waste, which if stored in a sharps container, can be stored indefinitely until it reaches the maximum fill line. The sharps container must be rigid and leak-proof.
Other than sharps, medical waste must be contained in two red bags, generally one inside the other. Red bags must be individually tied or sealed. Red bags must be sealed by lapping the gathered open end and binding with tape or closing device so that its contents won’t leak. Before it is transported from the point of generation, infectious waste must be enclosed in a double-walled corrugated fiberboard box.
Generators of medical waste must obtain an Infectious Waste Identification Number, and this applies to every location that generates infectious waste.
Generators are allowed to employ the use of reusable containers, however these “…shall be thoroughly washed and decontaminated by a method approved by the Department of Health and Social Services each time they are emptied, unless the surfaces of the containers have been completely protected from contamination by disposable liners, bags or other devices removed with the waste.”
Of course, not many states identify common household wastes that are in a “gray” area, meaning it is potentially hazardous waste, but is not managed by the state. Per the state of Delaware, such wastes include soiled diapers, feminine hygiene items, and food wastes. While it may seem obvious, Delaware has clearly outlined what is, and what is not infectious waste.
When it comes to disposal, waste may not be disposed at a sanitary landfill unless the waste has been rendered noninfectious.
Delaware is also one of 26 states covered entirely by the federal OSHA program, which includes sharps management, container requirements, and medical waste labeling. It also oversees employee training.
While every state outlines specific categories of regulated medical waste, it is important that healthcare facilities understand certain key concepts to avoid improper segregation and disposal of medical waste. Contact Red Bags today to discuss how we can help you comply with your Delaware medical waste and other state requirements.