A look at Virginia medical waste requirements.

Medical waste in the state of Virginia is managed by its Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which sets the standards for the storage and treatment of regulated medical waste.

Solid medical waste is referred to as regulated medical waste, and defined as waste that “… is capable of producing an infectious disease in humans or if it is not excluded under the regulations.”  Exclusions include household sharps that are generated at home through self-care, rather than under the care of a healthcare professional or at a healthcare facility.

Regulated medical waste includes cultures and stock of microorganisms and biologicals, human blood and human body fluids, tissues and other anatomical wastes, sharps waste, animal carcasses, body parts, and infected bedding, and any solid waste that is contaminated or mixed with medical waste.

Generators that store or dispose of any type of regulated medical waste are required by the state of Virginia to obtain a permit.  This includes generators that produce more than 75% of medical waste by weight in a calendar year and follows all regulated medical waste disposal laws.  These laws include how medical waste is packaged, stored, treated, and disposed of.

Medical waste must be placed in containers in packaging that is closable, prevents leakage, is labeled with the biohazard symbol, and is closed to prevent spillage during handling and transport.  Sharps must be disposed of in approved sharps containers and labeled accordingly.

The state requires that labels be specific in nature; all labels must be securely attached and printed with indelible ink. Labels must include the name, address, and business phone number of the generator, as well as “RMW” in large print with the biohazard symbol.

Reusable containers are permitted so long as the packaging and labeling maintains its integrity, and that each container is thoroughly cleaned with detergent or general purpose disinfectant before reuse.

All regulated medical waste must be incinerated, sterilized by steam, or chemically disinfected prior to disposal in a permitted landfill or other permitted solid waste management facility.

Perhaps one of the more specific requirements of medical generators not outlined by many other states is when a facility ceases operations. Closed facilities must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, with all regulated medical waste disposed of and all equipment decontaminated.

Generators must also maintain medical waste records for three years, of which must include management personnel, business contact information, a log of training for staff, as well as adopted policies and procedures for medical waste management.

Virginia is also one of 21 states operating an approved occupational safety and health program run by Virginia’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  These OSHA rules over see several aspects of regulated medical waste, including containers, medical waste labeling, and employee training.

When it comes to medical waste, many states follow federal guidelines, as well as implementing their own requirements to protect people and the environment.

Learn how other states handle medical waste requirements.

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