Regulatory Facts That Small Healthcare Facilities May Be Overlooking

To understand the details of medical waste compliance, smaller medical waste generators should be familiar with all regulatory issues.

Laboratories, hospitals, private practice offices, dental facilities, and even veterinary offices are all places that produce medical waste, and they are required by federal, state, and even local laws, to create a medical waste removal plan.  Poor management of medical waste potentially exposes health care workers, waste handlers, patients, and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and injuries, and also risks polluting the environment.  Compliance is one of the hot button topics in the medical waste management industry.  For smaller offices, it’s easier to overlook the top regulatory compliance issues without a medical waste removal plan. Here are some of the more common regulatory facts that many are missing or simply unaware of.

Red bag waste refers to a specific kind of medical waste.

Any item that contains liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) falls under the definition of red bag waste.  Red plastic bags must be of a specified thickness that is leak and tear resistant, and must be labeled with the international biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARDOUS.”

There are a specific set of requirements as outlined by OSHA for medical waste compliance.

On the Federal level, the storage and management of medical waste is primarily regulated by OSHA.  The OSHA regulations only apply to human blood, human infectious wastes, and human pathological wastes.  OSHA also requires staff training, including minimizing employee exposure with work practice controls and use of personal protective equipment.  The list of OSHA requirements is exhaustive, but Red Bags offers an online OSHA Compliance Program that details current regulations, data sheets, safety plan builders, and more.

Packaging and transportation are part of the compliance and regulation picture.

Medical waste cannot be tossed in the regular trash, nor can it be transported by your municipal waste management company.  Infectious waste must be transported in rigid containers that have been approved by the Department of Transportation.  These containers are leak-proof, spill-proof, puncture resistant, and reusable.

Packaging and containers should be inspected regularly.

You may be compliant with your packaging, but how old is your packaging and labeling and have you checked to ensure its rigidity?  It is imperative to inspect your hazardous waste containers every week to ensure they are not compromised.  Managers should keep a log for an inspector to fill out, fully disclosing the inspection, and signed with their initials and date of inspection.

Emergency response numbers must be listed on medical waste management manifests for transporters.

Lacking a number or improperly providing a number not only poses a health and safety risk, but it also makes the waste generator and transporter liable to consequences for federal noncompliance.

Working with a certified medical waste removal expert can help you maintain compliance and understand all the complexities of medical waste disposal.  When you work with Red Bags, you are working with a company who can help you manage all of your medical and pharmaceutical waste disposal needs.  We can ensure your staff’s safety and your company’s regulatory compliance.

Want to learn more? Follow Red Bags’ blog to be up to date on the latest happenings in the medical waste industry.

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