Medical waste is a waste that contains infectious or potentially infectious materials and bodily fluids. These wastes are generated by our healthcare facilities i.e. hospitals, dental clinics, veterinary clinics, laboratories, medical research facilities.
Clinical waste is defined as any waste resulting from medical, nursing, dental, pharmaceutical, skin penetration or other related clinical activity, being waste that has the potential to cause injury, infection or offence and includes waste containing any of the following but not limited to:
- Human tissue (other than hair, teeth and nails)
- Bulk body fluids or blood
- Laboratory specimens or cultures
- Animal tissue, carcasses or other waste from animals used for medical research
Classification of Medical Waste
The ‘clinical and related waste’ under Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 classified medical waste into different categories.
- Clinical waste
- Cytotoxic waste
- Drug or medicine waste
- Sharps waste
These wastes pose potentially harmful microorganisms that can infect health workers and the general public. This must be handled and segregated in a safe manner upon disposal.
Management of Clinical Waste Streams
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005, stated that medical waste should not be treated similarly to a common and general waste. Waste containers or waste bins must be labelled, segregated and disposed of accordingly by the following order:
- Bin colour
- Lid colour of bin
- Labelling of bins and if applicable liners
- Symbol with description
- Label (if containing viable PC1 or PC2 GMOs)
- Specific requirements
- Relevant Act and Regulation
- EPA licence requirements
Proper handling, labelling and storage of medical waste materials minimise the risk of transmission of potentially infectious diseases and contamination into our waste streams.
In fact, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), reinforced the said guidelines in which clinical and other related waste should be classified as ‘special waste’. That is in consideration of minimising the risk to the environment and community.
Its regulation requires specific and strict requirements in compliance with proper implementation of waste management and transportation.
Methods of Medical Waste Treatment and Disposal
As per the standard of municipal solid waste streams, prior to the disposal of medical waste, it has to undergo a series of processes to ensure the safety of the community against harmful pathogens and chemicals.
- Autoclaving is a sterilization process that uses high-pressure steam. Prior to disposal, this method is used to sanitize medical waste such as waste that cannot be recycled i.e. needles, gauze
- Incineration is considered the safest and most effective means of treatment. This process undergoes burning specific wastes such as trace chemotherapy, pathological and other non-hazardous pharmaceutical wastes.
Medical wastes that are not allowed in the clinical waste treatment stream:
- Cytotoxic waste
- Pharmaceutical waste
- Radiological waste
- Body parts (human tissue, limbs, etc)
- Volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (including formaldehyde, phenol and mercury)
For businesses that generate medical or clinical waste, you must be cautious of the potential health hazards if these wastes are not handled, labelled and disposed of properly. Large scale healthcare facilities should scrutinize and review their Code of Practice for specific guidance and requirements on proper waste management.
Due to the reliance on single-use items, medical waste build-up is becoming a threat. This predicament is not solely isolated in the hospitals but all throughout the healthcare industry.
Improper disposal of medical waste poses a health risk to the healthcare workers, waste removalists and the general public. Proper management of healthcare and other hazardous waste should be handled by a dependable disposal company.
Proper labelling and segregation of your medical waste bins are easy when you hire Kurt’s Rubbish Removal. We are a licensed and professional waste transporter that has helped businesses manage their waste disposal. We provide affordable and comprehensive services to meet your needs.
Compliance with medical waste regulations is easy if you choose only a reputable rubbish removal company. Give us a call today at 0428 255 438.