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OSHA Medical Waste Compliance

June 14, 2021

To complement state and local regulations, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards were implemented at a federal level to eliminate the harmful results of mismanaged storage, handling, and disposal processes of medical waste.

What is regulated waste?

OSHA defines “regulated waste” as:

  • Liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM)
  • Items contaminated with blood or OPIM and which would release these substances in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed
  • Items that are caked with dried blood or OPIM and are capable of releasing these materials during handling
  • Contaminated sharps
  • Pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or OPIM.

What are the main OSHA requirements for healthcare facilities?

Healthcare facilities are required to be compliant with OSHA’s standards. Here are the main requirements:

  • To minimize exposure to hazards that may cause injuries or illness, personal protective equipment (PPE) compatible to the nature of the waste cleanup must be available. This includes gloves, gown, mask, shield, hair covering, and shoe covers.
  • Absorbents must be used to contain bodily fluid spills and prevent splashing during handling.
  • Disposal of these materials must be done safely. Items contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material are required to be placed in a container that is labeled and color coded and closed prior to being stored or transported.

What are the requirements for sharps containers?

Sharps containers must:

  • Be color-coded in red or labeled with the universal biohazard symbol
  • Remain upright throughout use and never be overfilled
  • Be closed immediately prior to removal or replacement to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping
  • Be placed in a secondary container if leakage is possible. The second container must be closeable, constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage during handling, storage, transport, or shipping. It must be labeled or color-coded
  • Reusable containers must not be opened, emptied, or cleaned manually or in any other manner that would expose employees to the risk of percutaneous injury. Upon closure, duct tape may be used to secure the lid of a sharps container, but the tape cannot serve as the lid.

What are the requirements for other types of regulated medical waste containers?

Regulated waste, other than contaminated sharps, must be placed in containers which are:

  • Closeable
  • Constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport or shipping
  • Labeled or color-coded
  • Closed prior to removal to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping

Sharps include syringes, scalpel blades, razors, scissors, knives, and other medical cutting items. Contaminated glass is included whether it is broken or not.

Following OSHA standards is for the safety of employees, patients, the public, and environment and is a legal requirement of all medical facilities. This makes it imperative that all employees are trained to follow OSHA guidelines and continually kept up-to-date with the latest policies and procedures.

The best way to be responsible and stay compliant with regulated medical waste is to solicit the services of a professional and compliant medical waste management company.

GreenServ is a leading provider of regulated medical waste removal and disposal throughout the mid-south region including Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Give us a call at 662-533-0940 or complete the form on this page.

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If you’re interested, give us a call at (662) 533-0940 or complete the form on the contact page.