Hospitals produce over 5.9 million tons of medical waste annually in the United States. Moreover, the number increases when accounting for other medical facilities, such as dentist’s offices, clinics, research labs, testing sites, etc.
Research shows that 15 percent of all medical waste can be hazardous, posing dangers to medical professionals and the public. Therefore, training staff to handle infectious waste is essential.
Medical waste often comprises hazardous and non-hazardous material. However, a significant percentage of medical waste involves blood and bodily fluids, transmitting blood-borne diseases.
Promoting appropriate handling and disposal of infectious waste guarantees community health by minimizing the risk of disease transmission.
What is Infectious Waste?
The World Health Organization defines infectious waste as trash that has blood and other bodily fluids contaminating it. The WHO also considers cultures and stocks of infectious agents from laboratory work, such as excess from autopsies, as infectious waste. The WHO also regards waste collected from patients in the wards as infectious waste.
The Importance of Infectious Waste Training
Proper infectious waste training is essential for protecting not only yourself, but also your co-workers, healthcare companies, and the environment.
Most healthcare facilities partner with a medical waste disposal company and expect them to handle the task. However, the Department of Transport (DOT) issues obligations for the ethical handling of infectious waste to the shipper, meaning that the underlying responsibilities lie not with your waste disposal service provider but with your healthcare facility.
Therefore, it’s vital that your staff receives training in handling the disposal of medical waste appropriately. Otherwise, you could find regulatory bodies fining you for improper disposal.
Regulations for Disposing of Infectious Waste
Regulations for infectious waste disposal vary by state. However, there are guidelines that all states universally agree upon. Moreover, regulatory authorities also have regulations you need to follow. These include:
Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration
The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) has standards regarding training employees in waste disposal. All new employees must receive introductory training detailing the OSHA-mandated procedures of waste management. Training should encompass universal precautions and include information about handling sharps and potentially infectious substances. In addition, employees must also receive training regarding the documentation of handling medical waste. Moreover, OSHA also requires annual refresher training for existing employees. OSHA also emphasizes training employees in dealing with blood-borne pathogens.
US Department of Transportation
The Department of Transportation (DOT) also has guidelines for training employees. Employees tasked with packaging and shipping medical waste must receive extensive training per the DOT’s standards. The DOT requires employees to complete training before starting their job assignments. Moreover, the DOT also mandates that employees receive refresher training every three months.
Employee Training Documentation
Most state regulatory bodies require documentation verifying that employees received the necessary training to handle the infectious waste. Typically, training documentation should include the training date, name, and qualifications of the trainer, name of your healthcare facility, and training topic. In addition, the documentation must also include the employee’s name and job designation, and signature.
Partnering with a Medical Waste Disposal Service Provider
Managing medical waste can be a grueling endeavor, which is why healthcare facilities partner with medical waste disposal companies. Medical Systems is a medical waste company in Denver, Colorado, providing clients with removal, recycling, and collection services. We assist healthcare facilities with biomedical and biohazard waste disposal. In addition, we also offer collection services such as medical waste pickup, chemotherapy waste pickup, and hazardous waste pickup.
Contact us today to get your facility’s infectious waste disposal needs sorted.