Handling biohazardous waste is always dangerous. It can be contaminated with infectious pathogens or cause damage to the environment. Gloves, towels and personal protective equipment are just some of the most common items that require special storage, transportation and disposal. But, anything is considered hazardous once it’s been contaminated.
If the Department of Transportation performs an audit on your business and finds that biohazardous waste has been improperly transported for disposal, then it’s your business that gets hit with a fine. Even if you’ve hired someone else to handle it. That’s why it’s important to keep the following information in mind and always hire trusted professionals to dispose of biohazardous waste.
Exposure Control Plan
The first step towards compliance is developing an Exposure Control Plan. Employers are required by law to have one. It’s a resource that ensures exposure control measures are in place and can be consulted should a situation arise, so that the proper steps are taken to protect employees. All employees should be familiar with the Exposure Control Plan, be aware when changes are made to it and, of course, what to do when it’s needed.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established criteria for Exposure Control Plans:
- It must be written specifically for each facility.
- It must be reviewed and updated at least yearly.
- It must be readily available to all workers.
Storing Biohazardous Waste and Protecting Employees
Once you’ve established an Exposure Control Plan, you’ll need to make sure employees have the equipment and containers they need to safely handle hazardous materials. Sharp objects should be put in a sharps container and any liquids should be put stored in red biohazard bags. Generally, the quality of the container should correspond to the danger posed by the waste.
Sharps containers should be accessible and secure. When using red biohazard bags, be conservative and avoid overfilling. Like kitchen trash bags, it’s more difficult to securely tie the bags when overfilled and then waste is able to spill out. Regardless of the container, never mix wastes. Biohazardous waste should always remain separate.
Who Can Dispose of Biohazardous Waste?
Unless you are certified by the Department of Transportation, you can’t transport biohazardous waste that weighs more than 50 pounds. You’ll need to call a DOT-certified transporter when it’s time to move biohazardous waste to a disposal facility. Proper disposal procedures in the workplace will keep employees safe, but it’s also important that biohazardous waste can’t harm anyone else or the environment while it’s being transported.
Any container that is used to transport biohazardous waste must be approved by the DOT. That way you know the container can’t be punctured by its contents, won’t leak and hasn’t been tampered with. Containers that have been approved by the DOT will be marked. Just because objects were shipped in a certain container doesn’t mean that container is suitable once those objects have been contaminated.
Whether you’re looking for biohazard bags, sharps containers or a DOT-certified transporter for biohazardous waste, contact Hawkeye Fire & Safety. The regulations for biohazardous waste can be confusing, so don’t hesitate to ask the professionals at Hawkeye Fire & Safety if you have any questions.