Standards for Mailing Sharps Waste
The United States Postal Service requires anyone mailing sharps waste to use USPS-approved packaging. Here’s what that means.
Packaging and transporting medical waste is under strict regulation and enforcement. Any facility that produces medical waste, whether it’s health care facilities, waste haulers, treatment and disposal companies, medical spas, and/or laboratories, must have a system in place for safe, secure, and compliant sharps disposal. What if that disposal includes a sharps mail-back program? What are the standards for mailing sharps?
We know that a sharp is any object that may be contaminated with a pathogen and is capable of cutting or penetrating skin or a packaging material, and that is why the United States Postal Service requires anyone who mails sharps waste to use USPS-approved packaging that has been tested to meet federal hazardous materials packaging standards per the Department of Transportation. This includes labeling, classification, and packaging condition.
According to the USPS:
- Sharps waste must be in approved packaging per Postal Service Headquarters.
- Approved packaging must be leak-proof, water-resistant, and “enough material within the primary receptacle to absorb and retain three times the total liquid allowed within the primary receptacle.”
- Packages must be labeled with the name of the medical waste vendor, the USPS Authorization Number, and the container ID number.
- A shipping container must also have the international biohazard symbol in black with either a fluorescent orange or fluorescent red background.
- Every sharps mailing container must include a re-sealable envelope placed on the outside of the package that contains a USPS manifest. This manifest must detail the mailer and the destination facility, and includes an emergency phone number in case the package is damaged in the mail.
Proper packaging, labeling and transportation of regulated medical waste is mandated by federal and state regulations. There are specific federal markings required for hazardous waste, including the biohazard symbol, “this-side-up” malarrows, signs that dictate regulated medical waste, all of which must be present and clearly visible when mailing medical waste. There are also state regulations on properly labeling as well. Improperly labeling containers poses a risk to staff, patients, and the community, and can result in penalties and fines for non-compliance.
Don’t guess when it comes to sending sharps waste in the mail. Failure to comply with government regulations as they pertains to medical waste disposal can be a confusing and costly experience. Let Red Bags take the guesswork out of it for you. Contact us today.
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