Whether you’re dealing with handling medical waste, training your team on compliance, or not really thinking much about your waste disposal, these are some vital things your boss wants you to know about medical waste. Are you looking for a raise? Wanting that extra vacation day? Just want to do the best job you can? Start with these 7 tips and you’ll be on your way!
1. What Does Belong in the Red Bags?
Yeah we know you went through compliance training and got certified. Do you really know what belongs in those red biohazard waste bags though? It’s vital that the correct items end up in these containers to prevent the spread of disease and possible injury to the public who may come in contact with it.
For a cheat sheet: download our poster for your medical waste area and hang it above your container!
2. What Does Not Belong in the Red Bags
Sometimes more importantly than what goes in the red bag is what does not go in it. Not only can potentially dangerous items such as syringes not go in the red bag without being in a proper container, the more unnecessary waste you put in the biohazard container, the more often you will need a pick up. This will end up costing you a lot more money over time. Money that could be spent on office lunch outings or new post it notes! There are some simple things you can do to make sure the wrong things don’t end up in your biohazard bags such as making sure everyone on your team has completed proper OSHA training. Your compliance officer can also have team meetings periodically to quiz the team on what belongs in the bags and what does not. Consider having a prize for the person who finishes their quiz first or who consistently has the best scores over time.
3. How to Prevent Mistakes with Biohazard Waste
It should be no mystery that the best way to prevent mistakes is to be prepared. Getting your team trained and certified is step 1. However, sometimes the most common mistakes are some of the most preventable and yet still overlooked. Have you ever thought about what would happen if your keys or cell phone were in your jacket pocket and accidentally fell into a medical waste container? One easy way to avoid this happening is to create a designated place for personal items in the room where the biohazard waste containers are stored. Place a sign above it or on the door reminding authorized personnel to place their personal belongings here before dealing with the waste for any reason. Taking simple yet conscious steps like this will reduce the risk of an exposure incident and keep everyone safe.
4. What to do in an Emergency/Exposure Incident
We’ve already talked about the importance of being trained to properly handle medical waste in order to reduce exposure incidents and maintain safety for everyone involved. However, what if something happens despite all necessary safety precautions? Your boss wants you to know, without hesitation, what to do in case of an exposure incident. Whether someone does end up dropping their keys into the bag or it’s something much worse such as someone accidentally getting stuck with a needle, you need to know what to do. Building your safety and exposure control plans are the most important part of this. Have you clearly defined what your facility is to do in the case of an incident? Do you know exactly where to find this information? If not, now is the time to get started.
5. If You’re Spending Too Much on Waste Disposal
Once you have a service picking up your medical waste you probably don’t think about it much after that. Your containers get full, someone comes to take them away and that’s pretty much that. So, how would you know if you’re drastically over paying for this service? Even if you’re not planning on switching medical waste disposal vendors, it’s a good idea to check when your current contract expires. Then, set yourself a reminder on your calendar to call a few other companies 2-3 months before your contract expires to ask them some questions and prepare to switch if you decide you want to. Be sure to ask these questions of your current vendor as well! What questions should you ask? We have a handy list of questions you can download! If you want to get started right now, most companies will set their own reminders to reach out to you prior to your contract expiration date!
6. How Full is Too Full? When and How to Package the Waste
Running out of room in your biohazard container? Never, ever push down the contents of a biohazard waste container to make more room. This could expose you to potential hazards that can be very dangerous. Sharps should of course be in a sharps container and never lose. However, it’s not worth the risk to find out the hard way if there were a loose sharp sitting in your container. Your container should be lined with a large red bag prior to use. When your waste container is full (do not overfill it) gather and tie the red bag shut. Then, secure the lid on the container by locking it or, if it is a cardboard container, tape the container closed. The red bag should not be visible once the container is closed and secured.
7. Procedures and Best Practices: Pickups and Manifests
Who takes your manifest? Who signs for the pickup? Who knows where all this important information is should OSHA show up and ask to see it? It is important to have a written and clearly defined procedure for this is just as you do for a safety plan. It also cuts down on wasted time trying to figure out who does what when your hauler comes to remove your waste. Assign a person (or people) responsible for knowing when the waste is going to be picked up and what to do when the hauler arrives. In addition, designated someone to handle the forms relating to the waste and make sure this person knows how and where to keep this information.
Have questions? Ask us in the comments section below!