Medical waste disposal: 5 potential errors to prevent at your facility
Medical waste has to be disposed of properly to avoid liabilities for your facility. Audits can be conducted at your facility to see if you’re meeting federal and state requirements of your area’s Department of Natural Resources or Department of Transportation.
The following are some of the most common medical waste disposal errors that you need to be aware of so that you can stay out of trouble at your facility:
Neglecting to get necessary permits when transporting waste
Depending on how much waste you are transportating, you probably need a permit. Medical waste potentially poses some biological hazards, so its transportation is therefore regulated by the Department of Transportation. Some businesses and facilities handling medical waste assume that if they are only transporting their waste to an independent disposal facility or if they are using the right containers they don’t need a permit for transportation. However, this is not likely to be the case.
Not meeting Trasportation Department packaging specifications
Any medical waste that has the potential to be infectious should be stored in properly marked containers. The Department of Transportation in most states and municipalities will specify rigid containers that are puncture resistant and tamper-proof.
Using original shipping containers for storage
It’s important to realize that medical supplies become “waste” at a certain point. At this point, how they must be stored according to Department of Natural Resources or Department of Transportation specifications can change.
Although it may be ok to initially store medical materials in containers like cardboard boxes or plastic bags, a rigid hazardous waste container that is approved by the Department of Transportation will be necessary for storage and transportation once those medical materials have been used.
Mixing medical and non-medical waste
Combining medical and non-medical waste is never a good idea. This can create a scenario where it’s easy to mistake one type of waste for another, and disposing of medical waste without taking the necessary precautions could have enormous legal repurcussions for your organization.
Always keep in mind that medical and non-medical waste should be separate. Don’t start thinking that you can dispose of your non-medical waste with medical waste. This wastes resources you need for medical waste disposal like specialized containers. It also could lead to confusion down the road.
Allowing employees without the proper training to sign off on medical waste disposal
Those who handle waste disposal at medical facilities like hospitals and clinic should realize that not anybody should be signing off on medical waste. Your area Department of Trasnportation likely has a requirement that only staff member with the proper training should be signing off on a manifest for waste removal that includes medical waste. You should deal with this issue by having a designated employee for handling pickup by your medical waste disposal service. Also, you should make sure every staff member is aware of the fact that medical waste disposal isn’t like any other type of pickup. It’s typical for employees to assume that they can sign off until they have been notified of the special considerations that need to be taken.
New Orleans Crime Scene Cleanup can pick up and dispose of all medical waste in New Orleans, Louisiana.