If you work in an industry where you come in contact with patients or bodily fluids, it’s vitally important that you understand exactly what biohazardous waste is. However, it’s equally important to understand biohazardous waste regulations and the laws surrounding that material.
Biohazardous Material Defined
Biohazardous materials can be understood as any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, research, production, or testing of anything biological. This includes humans and animals.
Because animals are included in that biological waste, the rules that govern hospitals and doctors’ offices for proper waste disposal apply to veterinary clinics, veterinary hospitals, and any other vet office.
What Is Considered Biohazardous Waste?
Anything that has come in contact with blood, other bodily fluids, or potentially infectious materials can fall under this umbrella. Some common items that constitute bio-hazardous waste include:
- Blood-soaked bandages.
- Surgical gloves, masks, and gowns discarded after surgery.
- Used surgical instruments such as needles, scalpels, and other sharps.
- Used gauze.
What’s in a Name?
Within the medical waste management field, biohazardous waste goes by several other synonymous names.
- Red bag waste.
- Red bag medical waste.
- Regulated medical waste.
- Medical waste.
- Regulated waste.
While the terminology differs, it’s important to remember these names are just different ways to refer to the same materials. In this way, the rules relating to bio-hazardous waste disposal apply—regardless of how that waste is referred to.
What Is Biohazardous Waste Disposal Protocol?
If you have items that are legally considered biomedical waste, these items can never simply go into the garbage. The items must be placed in special red bags, those red bags must be placed inside approved containers, and the box must be taped and secured shut. Those boxes must then be picked up by a fully licensed and insured medical waste management company or otherwise legally disposed of.
Remember that any contaminated sharp needs to go into a puncture-resistant sharps container before being placed in the red bag. These sharp containers help ensure nobody is inadvertently stuck by a used or otherwise contaminated needle.
Before safe and legal disposal, all regulated medical waste must first be treated by an autoclave. What is an autoclave? It’s essentially an oven that runs at approximately 300 degrees. All contaminated red bag waste is placed inside for about an hour, and this process kills any germs or bacteria that might be found in the blood, bodily fluid, or other potentially infectious material. Only after being exposed to an autoclave can that waste be safely disposed of within a landfill.
If you’re in any way unsure about the proper protocol for medical waste disposal, make sure to contact your local medical waste management companies. A reputable, experienced company should be able to answer any questions or concerns you have about the process.
Because improper disposal can result in fines for you and your business as well as pose health risks to others and the environment, it’s essential that you seek out professional medical waste services if you deal in regulated medical waste and need advice, guidance, or assistance.
For more information about bio-hazardous waste, sharps containers, or any aspect of regulated medical waste disposal, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, an Atlanta medical waste management company that has been offering medical waste service agreements since 1989.