It is vital for all medical clinics to dispose of medical waste correctly, and one of the most important areas of medical sharps waste regulations to be familiar with is medical sharps disposal. Unlike other areas of medical waste disposal where your facility might have some leeway in how to follow the regulations, the regulations covering sharps disposal tend to be very specific.
So, if you have a medical facility in Georgia that uses sharps, you need to ensure that you are familiar with the sharps disposal process. Additionally, it is essential that you provide training to your staff in proper sharps disposal in Georgia.

01   /   Important Information About Medical Sharps Bins in Georgia

There are federal laws regulating the disposal of medical sharps, and all states must comply with these regulations. So it’s important that your Georgia medical facility is aware of and complies with the regulations for Georgia sharps disposal. Federal and state laws require that your sharps container be puncture resistant. Additionally, all sharps must be disposed of in a sharps container. It’s not legal for staff members to throw sharps away outside of these containers.

02   /   The Importance of Medical Sharps Containers

Being required by law, sharps bins are essential to any healthcare environment. OSHA mandates that puncture-resistant sharps bins be used to protect employees and patients. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation, as well as the state, have regulations covering the disposal of medical sharps. If a facility violates these sharps container regulations, it could result in fines or even the closure of the medical facility. So it’s critically important that your facility fully grasps the finer points of these regulations when creating your own sharps waste management rules.

03   /   Safety Issues When Disposing of Sharps

When sharps are not properly disposed of, they are a hazard to anyone who may come into contact with them. This is especially true if the sharp has been in contact with infected bodily fluids. If an individual is stuck by a contaminated sharp, they could suffer serious health problems, such as contracting an infectious disease or the effects of any residual medication on the sharp. 

There are a number of factors that could lead to improper disposal of sharps, and facilities should work to prevent these. In some cases, an employee may simply not understand sharps container regulations. This issue can be dealt with by providing adequate training to employees before they start their duties. Unfortunately, some employees may understand disposal regulations and choose not to follow them. 

Multiple other problems can lead to improper sharps disposal, as well. For instance, sharps bins may overfill or there may not be bins in the area where employees are working. These problems can be addressed with the right knowledge and equipment. The first step is to effectively educate employees on the importance of sharps safety so that they become advocates for proper disposal and will report issues when a sharps problem arises. Repetitive sharps safety training is beneficial to drive home the key points of sharps safety, such as continuously reminding staff that sharps must not be disposed of loose in the garbage or even in a non-puncture-resistant container. Staff also need to have accessible, easy-to-use sharps containers placed where they work and these containers which do not quickly overfill should be favored over less-efficient models.

04   /   Packaging a Medical Sharps Container for Shipment in Georgia

When disposing of medical sharps, you are required to place the sharps in a puncture-resistant sharps container. The sharps must not be placed in the biohazardous box since this box is not puncture resistant and can potentially allow sharps to break through it. Once the sharps container is full, you should place the puncture-resistant sharps container into another box or container once you are ready to ship the sharps. Then, the outer box must be properly sealed for shipment.

05   /   Obtaining Additional Sharps Containers

If your medical clinic needs more sharps containers and works with a waste management company, you likely can obtain more containers from them. They may be able to express ship the containers if necessary or drop them off when they are working in your area. However, if your medical facility operates in a rural area, you may need to order the containers. You can order these directly from the manufacturer if you want. There are many options for size, and you can also choose whether or not you would like wall-mounted bins.

06   /   Georgia Medical Sharps Disposal Regulations

It is important that your facility's sharps medical waste management policies comply with Georgia's regulations. Like many states, Georgia has its own regulations that you must follow in addition to federal regulations. According to Georgia regulations, "Sharps shall be contained for storage, transportation, treatment and subsequent disposal in leakproof, rigid, puncture-resistant containers which are taped closed or tightly lidded to preclude loss of contents." Also, "Rigid containers of discarded sharps and all other disposable containers used for containment of biological waste shall be red or orange in color or clearly identified with the universal biohazard symbol or clearly marked with the word "Biohazard"."

These regulations can vary from state to state. For example, North Carolina regulations require sharps to be "placed in a container that is rigid, leak-proof when in an upright position, and puncture resistant. The container may then be disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill." However, unlike Georgia, it does not specify the color of the containers. States and even local governments can have many different regulations, which can make working with a fully service waste management company a good idea to ensure compliance and avoid any penalties that may come with non-compliance with any relevant regulations.

07   /   Choose a Sharps Disposal Company Who Are Experts in the Industry

If you would like more information concerning the regulations for medical sharps disposal in Georgia, contact MCF Environmental Services. We are a full-service waste management company in Georgia with expertise working with hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. With 25 years of experience in the waste management industry, MCF can help you create a safer environment for patients and staff while ensuring compliance with all necessary regulations concerning sharps.

Robert Losurdo

President, COO