If you work in the medical field, or the manufacturing industry, there is a high possibility that you will generate waste that needs to be properly disposed of according to strict regulations. Whether it’s hazardous materials or biomedical waste, this waste cannot be simply put into the ground.
To understand why it is so important to properly dispose of medical waste, it helps to know what medical waste is. Medical waste, otherwise known as clinical waste, is harmful or hazardous waste. It is often produced in healthcare settings such as doctors’ offices, clinics, hospitals, labs, and veterinary hospitals. However, these are not the only organizations that produce medical waste. In fact, almost all businesses produce some degree of medical waste. If you want to know more about medical waste disposal and why it is so important, then keep reading below:
Why Medical Waste Disposal Is Critical
As we mentioned above, medical waste poses several health and safety risks. As well as its toxic and infectious characteristics, the extremely unpredictable and inconsistent nature of medical waste streams has heightened public concern about the storage, transportation, and disposal of medical waste.
Evidence suggests that more than 3.5 million tons of medical waste are generated annually within the U.S. Although between 75% and 90% of this waste is classed as a non-risk, infectious disease can cause illness in susceptible hosts. Therefore, it is so important for businesses to find an effective waste management solution.
The Different Types of Medical Waste
There are lots of different types of medical waste that can be considered as potentially infectious, and that require the right treatment and disposal. Here are some examples:
- Medical sharp waste – this is one of the most dangerous and most infectious types of waste.
- Pathological waste – this type of waste usually originates from surgical procedures.
- Other categories of medical waste – almost any material has the potential to become medical waste it if was in contact with a patient or used during a medical procedure. This includes things like textiles, hospital bedding, papers, plastics, and even glass. All these things need to be treated appropriately.
6 Medical Waste Management Tips
Medical waste, such as gloves and masks, needs to be discarded correctly. Medical waste that is not discarded correctly can pose a potential threat to human health and the environment. As such, the safe handling and disposal of medical waste is a vital part of disease prevention.
If you must deal with medical waste, then here are some of the considerations you should undertake to ensure the safe disposal of medical waste:
- Follow the color-coding guidance – medical waste needs to be segregated at the point of production to ensure safe and correct disposal.
- Dispose of soft medical waste in an automatic lidded or foot-operated unit – this can help to prevent the spread of infections.
- Do not overfill medical waste bags – you do not want the bag to overflow, and items to fall out.
- Store medical waste safely – keep it out of reach of patients, and staff.
- Hire a medical waste disposal service – they will be able to advise you on the best practice for dealing with medical waste. They will also safely dispose of any medical waste you produce.
- Carry out regular waste training to ensure workplace compliance – make sure everyone understands the procedures in place.
Medical waste disposal is more important than you’d think. Thanks to the potential dangers associated with the incorrect handling of medical waste, its correct management and disposal are crucial and there are strict laws and regulations in place to prevent harm from being caused to human health and the environment.