This is the third of a four-part article on how to identify, reduce and dispose of infectious/medical waste.

No matter what container is used, experts agree that collection of infectious waste should be preformed frequently enough so that overflow is never an issue. It is also recommended that any time hazardous waste is transported through the facility, it should be done in a lidded container.

Following transport, Bowers emphasizes that it is important to make sure containers are stored in an area that won’t endanger nearby processes.

“Infection prevention and environmental services needs to work to reduce exposure risk to patients, employees and the public from waste generated within our facilities,” he says.

Jewish Home and Care Center has designated storage areas on each floor for medical waste, separate from other waste streams. Most facilities are mandated to keep infectious waste at least 5 feet away from other waste, but Bates takes it a step further by designating separate storage areas for medical waste, specifically.

Protect With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Protecting employees is a big component of infectious waste disposal that should never be overlooked.

“Employees should always protect themselves when working with potentially infectious waste,” says Bowers.  “Gowns, gloves and eye covering are a minimum when handling these materials. Shoe covers are recommended if the potential for splashing could occur. And washing hands with soap and water would be of paramount importance after these tasks.”

Bates states they treat every piece of waste in the building like it’s contaminated and, as such, use personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.

“We wear safety goggles, an apron and gloves whenever we handle medical waste,” he says. “Everything you do must be geared toward stopping the spread of infection. If facilities handle waste properly, they can reduce hospital-acquired infections, which is the ultimate goal.”

There is a cost factor, as well as an environmental factor to complying with proper waste handling.

“The cost of disposing medical waste eventually gets passed on to the customer,” says Bates. “We can keep those costs down by disposing of waste properly.”

A solid plan to deal with infectious waste that looks at collection, storage and transport is the perfect place to start. 

RONNIE GARRETT is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

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Containing Hazardous Waste: Finding A Strong Hold
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What Is Considered Medical Waste