Determining whether your medical office meets Alabama’s medical waste regulations can be a daunting and time-consuming task. So we have compiled this information in a way for you to quickly spot areas that may need attention for your office to be compliant with Alabama’s state guidelines and regulations. In this post you will find a general overview of medical office requirements. To ensure your compliance, you will need to visit the site links that we have provided. In addition, your medical waste services provider can help you determine if you are in compliance.
What is the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) Land Division?
If you are new to medical waste, you may be wondering, “What is ADEM Land Division and why should I care?” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protects human health and the environment on a national level and the ADEM is the state agency that administers all major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Water Acts and federal solid and hazardous waste laws. ADEM Land Division manages and regulates Alabama’s medical waste. Through ADEM’s medical waste program, medical waste generators register with the agency and medical waste transporters and processors are issued permits.
Alabama Medical Waste Disposal Requirements
You Need a Written Medical Waste Management Plan
As a waste generator, it is your responsibility to have a written medical waste management plan that ensures proper processes and procedures are followed. Your plan should be actively maintained and updated as necessary, and cover items such as:
- Names/contact information for responsible person at your facility and all medical waste services providers
- ADEM permit numbers for you, your medical waste transporter, and all off-site storage and/or treatment facilities utilized
- Type of waste generated and your intended segregation, packaging, and labeling procedures
- The frequency your medical waste is removed off-site
- Training information including steps that will be taken to minimize employee risk
Your plan must be made available to ADEM upon request.
You Must Follow Correct Processes with Untreated Medical Waste
There are very specific instructions that must be followed for the collection of untreated medical waste that will be transported off-site. Specific requirements for packaging cover items such as:
- Using appropriate containers – in terms of physical strength and appearance, re-use
- Container Labeling – including typography, color, and the type of ink you use
- Sharps management
- Small containers – these have their own usage guidelines
- Reuse of containers
- Disposal of liquids – including sewer system requirements
You Need Documentation Throughout the Entire Waste Disposal Process
Your responsibility for the medical waste generated by your medical facility extends through the entire waste disposal process, even including after final destruction. Written certification that all treatment requirements are met is required, including:
- Signed manifest provided by your waste services provider upon pickup
- Certificate of destruction provided to you by your medical waste transporter after the medical waste is rendered non-infectious or destroyed and disposed.
You Need a Trusted Medical Waste Partner
Your responsibility does not end when medical waste leaves your facility. Regulated medical waste must be treated either at the point of generation or at an approved treatment facility before delivery to a solid waste disposal facility. Your medical waste services provider must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure proper transport, treatment, and disposal. ADEM specifies requirements that are related to:
- Proper transportation – including acceptance of compliant waste
- Proper handling – including transporter employee training
- Proper Storage – ensuring that your medical waste is only stored per ADEM requirements
- Proper commercial fleet management – including vehicle maintenance and permitting
- Proper records management – including a management plan similar to yours
- Proper documentation – including treatment and disposal
You have cradle-to-grave liability, which means you have responsibility even after disposal—including what happens to your medical waste 10 or even 110 years from now. A trusted partner can give you assurance that both human health and the environment have been protected.
Alabama OSHA Regulations for Medical Waste
In addition to the state regulations, there are some Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules that apply to medical waste. Alabama is one of 26 states that are covered by the federal OSHA program. OSHA rules (Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standards) impact various areas of medical waste management including: requirements for medical waste storage containers, labeling of waste containers and bags, management of sharps, and employee training. (Annual training is required and we provide our customers with convenient, online training.)
Take the right steps to be certain your medical office is in compliance with state and federal guidelines and regulations.