Medical waste is regulated in a similar way as other classes of hazardous waste. While there are federal guidelines to consider when packaging medical waste, you may be surprised to find that your state has laws that expand on these guidelines. It is critical to ensure that you are following all local, state, and federal regulations when packaging and labeling medical waste. As a waste generator, you are responsible for packaging and labeling your wastes properly and failure to do so will result in fines and penalties. Here are some tips to help you navigate these regulations to ensure that you avoid these penalties.
Identifying Regulated Medical Waste
Every state has specific definitions of what constitutes regulated medical waste. These definitions are similar to those included in OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, which includes these substances in their definition of regulated medical waste:
- Liquid and semi-liquid blood and other potentially infectious materials
- Contaminated items that would release blood or other potentially infectious materials if compressed
- Items caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials capable of releasing these during handling
- Pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or other potentially infectious materials
Setting Up the Proper Packaging
Proper packaging of your medical waste will entail following federal Department of Transportation regulations and any specific state or local rules as well. Your environmental management team can help you determine how to comply with these regulations. After setting up the transport box, line it with a red-bag liner to prevent the chance of liquid seepage on the box and place absorbent materials on the bottom of the bag liner if you are transporting small amounts of liquid as well. Once the bag is full, gather up the bag top and close it, tying it into a secure knot. Close the box flaps and securely tape it closed. Finally, apply your customer label and ready the box for pickup.
Understand What Cannot Be Transported in Medical Waste Packaging
If you need to dispose of the following items, do not place them in a package for medical waste. Instead, contact your environmental management team, who can provide the proper disposal systems.
- Hazardous waste
- Chemical waste
- Loose sharps
- Compressed gas cylinders
- Free liquids
- Radiographic and amalgam waste
Also, never place regular trash or bodily waste that are not potentially infectious in medical waste packaging!
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