A look at Tennessee medical waste requirements.
Tennessee medical waste disposal regulations are managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management. Medical waste is categorized as “Special Waste,” meaning that it is considered a solid waste, but one that is difficult or dangerous to manage and requires special handling.
According to the state, medical waste includes, but is not limited to:
- Cultures and stocks of infectious agents
- Pathological wastes
- Discarded sharps
- Contaminated wastes from surgery and autopsy
Tennessee is very specific about how generators are allowed to dispose of medical waste, which requires special permits. All medical waste generators must apply to the state’s Commissioner for a waste evaluation, and, if disposing in a permitted landfill, must do the following:
- Locate a landfill or processing facility that will accept medical waste, in addition to obtaining approval from the Division of SWM (Special Waste Management) before disposing or processing any waste
- Submit a completed Waste Evaluation Fee Worksheet application
- Submit a completed Special Waste Data Collection Form
In terms of storage, sharps must be securely packaged in puncture-proof containers, such as sharps containers, prior to disposal. Cultures and stocks of infectious agents are not allowed in approved landfills unless treated by autoclaving or incineration.
Tennessee is also one of 21 states operating an approved occupational safety and health (OSHA) program, which is managed by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Medical waste generators are therefore held to OSHA standards, including the management of sharps, requirements for containers that hold or store medical/infectious waste, the labeling of medical/infectious waste bags/containers, and employee training.
While each state will vary in their medical waste regulations, federal law will always be a common thread across state lines. Whether it’s completing special permits or using specific labels, make sure you are familiar with all of your state’s medical waste requirements.
Learn how other states handle medical waste requirements.
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