As a manager in a medical office or clinic, you are certainly aware of the risks to your staff posed by medical waste, as well as the OSHA regulations that address that risk. Complying with OSHA’s guidelines for medical waste management in the workplace is essential to minimizing risks to employees, protecting their health and safety. It is also essential to protecting your facility against the legal and financial consequences of compliance mistakes. To make things a bit easier, here are a few important steps to help ensure OSHA medical waste compliance in your workplace.
Make sure your waste containers meet medical waste compliance standards – Using approved medical waste containers for the collection of regulated waste is important to maintaining staff safety and medical waste compliance. Make sure that patient care areas are equipped with the proper containers for the collection of sharps, biohazardous waste, and other regulated waste products. All containers should be easy to access, clearly labeled and, when applicable, equipped with appropriate liners. Additionally, waste containers should never be overflowing, so be sure that they are being emptied regularly.
- Review medical waste segregation and handling rules with staff frequently – Medical waste compliance relies heavily on staff managing regulated waste appropriately. Reviewing the rules with your staff regularly can help ensure that happens. Key points to cover on a regular basis include proper classification of medical waste, safe and compliant waste handling and storage standards and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Keep staff compliance training up to date – OSHA medical waste compliance rules can be confusing, and they are updated or changed often. Regular compliance training can help ensure that your staff has a thorough understanding of current rules and requirements, and that your office remains in compliance with federal and state staff training requirements.
- Keep appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in good supply – To be in compliance with OSHA regulations, you must make all necessary PPE available to any staff member who has contact with medical waste. It must be easily accessible and within a reasonable distance from their work area. Be sure that you are checking your facility’s supply of PPE regularly to verify that appropriate types and sizes are in plentiful supply. Additionally, check in with staff regularly to make sure that they know where to find the protective equipment they need and when and how they should be using it.
- Make sure you have compliant medical waste storage procedures – Using proper procedures when storing your waste or transporting it for treatment and/or disposal is also crucial to ensuring medical waste compliance, so make sure your practices are up to par. Medical waste must be stored in an area that is secure and is not accessible to the general public, and separated from food consumption areas. Waste must be stored in approved containers, sturdy enough to resist leaks or punctures, and if waste will be transported off-site, strong enough to keep waste contained during shipping. Containers must be labeled with the International Biological Hazard symbol and with one of the following terms, as appropriate; Infectious, Medical Waste, or Biohazardous. All containers that will be transported must be labeled with your facility’s name and address, and all labels must be printed with permanent ink that will remain legible when exposed to the elements.
Last, but by all means not least, partnering with a reliable, licensed, full service medical waste service provider is a solid step in ensuring medical waste compliance in your workplace. A good medical waste company will have experts on staff that know all the ins and outs of compliance, and can give you and your staff the training and support you need to put solid policies and procedures in place for every step of the waste management process.