Exactly how long can you hold onto your stored medical waste in New York State?

Medical waste packaging and labeling in a facility that deals with regulated medical waste is the responsibility of the facility itself, and it’s up to managers and staff to follow local and federal compliance laws.  Packaging includes sharps containers, biohazard containers, plastic bags, and reusable containers. Of course, where packages are stored are just as important as the storage vessels themselves, and states vary where and for how long this can happen.

Medical Waste Storage: The Basics

Many states categorize waste into sub-categories, such as cultures and stocks, human blood, blood products, sharps, and animal waste.  Keeping types of medical waste separate and using properly marked containers is not only mandated by law, it helps you choose how and when, not to mention who removes the waste for you. Generally, when in use, medical waste containers should not be stored in common areas that are available to common traffic.

New York Storage Requirements

Per the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York State, medical waste must be kept separate from other wastes in a safe area, and all containers must be labeled with a universal warning sign or the word “biohazard.”  The storage area must be ventilated, with access only granted to authorized personnel.

Some states have stringent rules on storage time.  For example, many stipulate that medical waste shall not be stored for more than 30 days prior to transportation to an infectious medical waste management facility, even if refrigerated.  In New York, for example, medical waste can be stored for up to 60 days, if the generator produces less than 50 lbs. of medical waste per month; and up to 30 days, if the generator produces more than 50 lbs. per month.  In New York, the regulations also state that in patient areas, sharps containers can be stored for up to 90 days, or until they are full.  Then, the generator must adhere to the storage rules stated above.  According to the DEC, waste must be maintained in a non-putrescent state, only using refrigeration when necessary.  Medical waste must also be contained to protect the environment and limit exposure to the public.  Medical waste storage areas must be sanitary, kept free of rodents and insects, and secure from the threat of vandalism.

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, and failure to keep up on changing regulations can mean hefty fines and non-compliance legal issues. Unsure of these regulatory compliance issues in the state of New York? Red Bags is your one-stop solution for New York State regulations, compliance training, and medical waste storage and disposal services.

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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