Alabama Medical Waste Management

Alabama Medical Waste Management Plan Requirements

A medical waste management plan is the foundation of a compliant handling and disposal process. Medical waste is regulated primarily by state environmental and health departments. The agency that oversees medical waste management in Alabama is the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Requirements for medical waste management can vary by state and can change, so it’s crucial to check the latest guidelines for the most up-to-date information. If your medical practice or facility generates medical waste in Alabama, read below to learn about ADEM’s medical waste management plan requirements.

Why You Need a Medical Waste Management Plan

There are two main reasons to use a medical waste management plan to guide your waste handling and disposal process.  The first (and main goal), is to ensure compliance. State regulatory agencies such as ADEM require notification from all medical waste generators to be assigned an identification number. Then, each waste generator is required to prepare a management plan. The second reason to use a waste management plan is to increase efficiency. With a plan in place, you will give your staff clear communication and set in place procedures that ensure efficient medical waste handling.

What’s in a Medical Waste Management Plan?

In general, medical waste management plans cover areas such as:

  • Segregation and identification
  • Packaging and labeling
  • Storage
  • Transportation
  • Treatment and disposal
  • Training
  • Recordkeeping
  • Emergency response

These are the areas included in most plans. Upon review, state agencies may request modifications to a plan if it is inconsistent with guidelines or if it is not adequate to protect public health. There may be a short deadline for changes, which can be stressful and challenging for a busy medical practice. It’s important that your management plan is correct the first time to avoid warnings and fines. Alabama’s plan requirements are below.

Alabama Medical Waste Management Plan Requirements

ADEM requires a written plan to ensure proper medical waste management. The plan must be made available to ADEM upon request. Several areas in ADEM’s requirements that are related to treatment and storage; complete requirements for medical waste generators (chapter 335-17-2) are in their Medical Waste Program. Here, we focus on five requirements in your practice’s direct control.

1)    The Type of Medical Waste Generated

You must provide a detailed list of the specific types of waste generated by your medical practice or facility. Some broad categories include human blood and blood products, human pathological waste, sharps used in human or animal patient care or used in laboratories, isolation waste, and unused sharps.

2)    Proper Segregation, Packaging, and Labeling

Untreated medical waste must be accurately labeled and packaged before a waste services provider can transport it off-site. You should describe your preparation process in detail, including:

  • The type of containers used and labeling procedure
  • Sharps packaging and labeling
  • Small container usage
  • Container strength and moisture resistance
  • The outermost layer of packaging
  • Container handling
  • Proper closure of bags before closing containers 
  • Single-use containers

3)    Transporting Untreated Medical Waste Off-Site

As a medical waste generator, you must verify that your waste services provider complies with all requirements. ADEM should have the following information from the transporter of untreated medical waste: company name, address, phone number, the name of a responsible person, and the transporter’s ADEM permit number. Remember the cradle-to-grave guideline and that any incident with your medical waste is your practice’s responsibility. Treat your medical waste services provider as an extension of your operations and confirm they have all mandatory permits. *Your medical waste transporter should also maintain a hazardous waste transportation permit from ADEM. This permit covers any hazardous waste, including hazardous pharmaceuticals. We have more info about required permits for transporting regulated medical waste.

4)    Frequency of Medical Waste Removal

How often is your medical waste removed off-site? You must provide specific details about when it is collected – daily, every week, every two weeks, once a month, or as needed. If pickups are not routine, provide a detailed schedule.

5)    Include Employee Training in Medical Waste Management Plan

One section of your medical waste management plan should describe the training that your employees receive. Compliance training is an important step and a requirement that may fall between the cracks. However, healthcare compliance training is vital to minimize your staff’s exposure to infectious agents. They must be able to recognize regulated medical waste and properly manage it. You should provide the specific type of training provided and who conducts the training and documents it for each employee. (Keep training documentation in the employee file as well as in the waste management file.) 

Increase Efficiency and Compliance with a Medical Waste Management Plan

Following proper procedures for handling and disposing of regulated medical waste will increase efficiency and maintain compliance. A medical waste management plan is required by regulatory agencies and ensures adherence to guidelines and procedures. Maintain your plan  regularly and update it according to Alabama medical waste management plan requirements. When a plan is correctly written and maintained, it provides a valuable framework for managing the people and processes necessary for compliant medical waste management.

Need help creating or maintaining a medical waste management plan? Contact us today for a free consultation.