Biohazard waste is generally defined as any waste contaminated with potentially infectious agents or materials that may pose a threat to public health or the environment. Biohazardous waste includes:
- Medical waste
- Other Biohazardous Substances
However, medical waste is more-specifically considered waste that is generated in a lab or clinical setting.
Categories of Biohazard Waste
There are four categories of waste. Each form is separated, identified, sterilized and recycled appropriately to minimize exposure and risk to the environment and general population.
- Solid waste includes non-sharp items contaminated with any bodily fluids or biological material. For example: gloves, pipettes, towels, or culture.
- Liquid waste includes bulk quantities of blood or bodily fluids.
- Sharps waste includes any materials that can puncture or pierce through skin and is contaminated with biological material that can risk transmission or release to the environment. For example: needles, syringes, scalpels, microscopic slides, small broken glass or tubes.
- Pathological waste includes human organs, tissues and body parts with the exception of teeth.
It is important for healthcare facilities to take caution while handling biohazardous material and that only trained personnel handle and transcript this type of waste for disposal. For additional information, please refer to MedPro’s resources or ask about our OSHA Compliance Training services.
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Biohazard waste is in a variety of forms and comes from many different sources, some of which might surprise you. This type of waste is listed as any type of waste that is of a biohazardous nature.
Almost everyone is familiar with the type of hazardous waste that is associated with the medical industry. These cover an array of locations including general healthcare facilities, dental clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, veterinarian’s offices, physician’s offices and even pharmacies. Hazardous medical waste can include such items as chemicals, needles, body parts, blood, broken tubes, blood, gloves, gowns, suction devices, razor blades, medical devices, saturated dressings and pharmaceuticals.
However, there are some areas that are not typically associated with biohazardous waste and many of these can be found in construction sites. Porta-potties may be the first that comes to mind as these are regulated by the medical waste rules and guidelines. The contents of porta-potties can hold many health risks and those that are responsible for elimination must ensure that the environment, community and their staff are instructed as to the ways to eliminate properly without biological contamination.
Dealing with the elimination of hazardous wastes has developed over the years. Beyond the Federal rules, each state has a detailed list of guidelines that must be strictly followed by the institution or location that is generating the waste and the companies responsible for disposal. The LEED program (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design) is a program that was crafted as part of the green construction program and involves the requirement of projects to adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly methods, planning and materials. The benefits of the LEED program have included a newer ‘point achievement’ that can be translated into tax incentives and special credits. These benefits assist in counterbalancing the added costs of making use of green methods and allow for a more economically feasible planning structure.
For the companies that are responsible for the elimination of medical waste, they exist in a unique level of requirements. These are companies that comply with some of the most rigorous and strict guidelines, supplying a fleet of vehicles designed specifically for this process with containment receptacles that keep the waste from exposure to air or spillage if there was an accident. They have to comply with special transport permits so that they can traverse the medical waste via public highways as well as disposal arrangements that meet (or exceed) the disposal regulations for substances deemed biohazardous.
While special incinerators are used in the burning of the waste, the facilities where the incinerators are located must have special emission control filters to keep any smoke that may be contaminated from entering the environment. There is a high cost involved in complying with the proper elimination of biohazardous waste as well as being a potentially dangerous endeavor. Companies that are contracted to handle medical waste disposal have a higher level of special considerations than those organizations that handle non-medical waste. Their due diligence and constant monitoring, and updating keeps everyone safe from contamination.
Some of the better companies that deal with hazardous medical waste disposal have incorporated educational opportunities for their clients. This allows a medical organization to not only have access to the latest changes, but offer the information to their internal staff to keep them safe.