Managing Medical Waste

June 27, 2017

 

One expects to find medical waste at hospitals, medical clinics, veterinary clinics and laboratories. But, other organizations also generate medical waste. These include police and fire departments and public recreation facilities. If your organization handles medical waste, you are responsible for legally handling, management and disposal.

 

Medical waste definition: Medical waste meets both of the following requirements:

 

The waste is generated or produced as a result of the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals and research pertaining these activities, production or testing of biologicals, accumulation of home generated sharps waste, trauma scene clean-up or illicit drug use.

 

AND

 

The waste is either of the following:

a) Biohazardous waste

b) Sharps waste

 

Medical waste is not:

 

  • Waste generated in food processing or biotechnology that does not contain an infectious agent.

  • Waste generated in biotechnology that does not contain human blood or blood products or animal blood or blood products suspected of being contaminated with infectious agents known to be communicable to humans.

  • Urine, feces, saliva, sputum, nasal secretions, sweat, tears or vomitus unless it contains fluid blood.

  • Waste such as paper towels, paper products, articles containing non-fluid blood, and other medical solid waste.

  • Hazardous waste, radioactive waste, or household waste

  • Waste generated from normal and legal veterinarian, agricultural, and animal livestock management practices on a farm or ranch.

 

Medical waste generators:

 

Medical waste generators are differentiated by the quantity of waste produced monthly. Facilities that generate 200 pounds or more are considered large quantity generators (LQG). Those that generate less than 200 pounds are small quantity generators (SQG).

 

Allowed medical waste retention time:

 

A facility that generates less than 20 pounds of biohazardous waste per month may store it for 30 days once the container is full. Facilities that generate more than 20 pounds of biohazardous waste per month may store it for 7 days once the container is full. The waste may be stored for up to 90 days if kept at 32° F or below. Any amount of sharps waste can be stored for 30 days, once the container is full.

 

Correct storage and labeling:

 

Enclosure or designated accumulation area used for the storage of medical waste containers shall be secure so as to deny access to unauthorized persons and shall be marked with warning signs on or adjacent to the exterior of doors, gates or lids.  The storage may be secured by the use of locks on doors, gates or lids.

 

Sharps waste

 

Must have the words “sharps waste”, stored in container with the international biohazard symbol and the word “biohazard”, and have the generator’s name, address & telephone number.

 

Biohazard waste

 

Must have the words “biohazard waste”, stored in red bags with the international biohazard symbol and have the generator’s name, address & telephone number.

 

 

Compliance information:

 

Large quantity generators (LQG must complete a Medical Waste Management Plan that is to be submitted in CERS (California Environmental Reporting System) annually.

 

SQG facilities that treat their medical waste on site must also complete a Medical Waste Management Plan. SQG facilities that do not treat their medical waste on site are not required to complete a Medical Waste Management Plan.

 

 

Medical waste hauling

 

Transportation of Medical Waste (a) Medical waste shall only be transported to a permitted medical waste treatment facility, or to a transfer station or another registered generator for the purpose of consolidation before treatment and disposal.

 

No person shall haul medical waste unless the person is one of the following:

(a) A registered hazardous waste hauler pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) of Division 20.

(b) A mail-back system approved by the United States Postal Service.

(c) A common carrier allowed to haul pharmaceutical waste pursuant to Section 118029 or 118032.

(d) A small quantity generator or a large quantity generator transporting limited quantities of medical waste with an exemption granted pursuant to either Section 117946 or Section 117976, respectively.

(e) A registered trauma scene waste practitioner hauling trauma scene waste pursuant to Section 118321.5.

 

Authorized medical waste hauling exemptions

 

(a) A small quantity and large quantity medical waste generator who generates medical waste may transport medical waste generated in limited quantities up to 35.2 pounds to the central location of accumulation, provided that all of the following are met:

 

(1) The principal business of the generator is not to transport or treat regulated medical waste.

(2) The generator shall adhere to the conditions and requirements set forth in the materials of trade exception, as specified in Section 173.6 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(3) A person transporting medical waste pursuant to this section shall provide a form or log to the receiving facility, and the receiving facility shall maintain the form or log for a period of two years, containing all of the following information:

  • The name of the person transporting the medical waste.

  • The number of containers of medical waste transported.

  • The date the medical waste was transported.

 

(b) A generator transporting medical waste pursuant to this section shall not be regulated as a hazardous waste hauler pursuant to Section 117660.

 

Treatment

 

No person shall treat medical waste unless the person is permitted by the enforcement agency as required by this part or unless the treatment is performed by a medical waste generator and is a treatment method approved pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 118215).

 

This blog / website is made available by the environmental professionals at Rely Environmental for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and understanding of various environmental regulatory requirements. This blog article should not be considered as a professional service or legal advice. By using this blog / website you acknowledge it does not constitute a professional service. This blog / website should not be used as a substitute for competent professional services.

 

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