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Bio Medical Waste Disposal

Bio-Medical Waste Disposal

The Role of OSHA in Bio-Medical Waste Disposal

Bio-medical waste disposal in all facilities is mostly regulated by the state, yet they are pressured by various federal agencies to stay in line with other guidelines. One such agency is OSHA, who look at bio-medical waste disposal from the perspective of your employees.

What Is OSHA?

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – is a part of the US Department of Labor established in 1970. The role of OSHA includes the assurance of safe and healthy working conditions in all fields of employment. They provide training, education and assistance to employers to help set and enforce standards that improve safety conditions. The top priority of OSHA is the employee, and the risk of injury or illness to them as a result of their job duties.

Under the OSHA standards, an employee has a right to work without risk of serious harm or injury. Or when working in a field where an imminent risk of harm is unavoidable, to have safety measures in place that help diminish it. They maintain these standards by scrutinizing all kinds of work environments, identifying hazards, and developing plans that remove or mitigate the risk.

Bio-Medical Waste Removal and OSHA

The reasons behind the safe and proper removal of bio-medical waste are not just related to the health of the public. They are also in place to ensure the safety and well-being of health care workers. A contaminated sharp for example puts the cleaning staff at risk if it is placed in a transport container that it could pierce through. OSHA is concerned about these types of threats, along with education of medical employees on the safe clean-up of medical waste in hospitals and clinics.

As a medical facility employer, it is your responsibility to observe bio-medical waste removal from various perspectives. To satisfy OSHA requirements, this would include taking a look at medical waste removal from the eyes of your employees. Walk with them through the steps involved in disposing of medical waste, and target any areas where you see a potential for contamination, exposure to infection, or injury.

Potential OSHA Violations in Medical Waste Disposal Practices

Medical hospitals, clinics, labs and doctor’s offices must provide employees with clothing that protects them from being exposed to contagious elements that may be found in medical waste. This includes masks, gloves and gowns that meet government standards. Remember to think beyond the nurses and doctors on staff, and consider office workers and cleaning crews who could also inadvertently be exposed to medical waste during their work day.

The proper disposal of bio-medical waste begins with its handling from the source. To make your facility compliant with all regulations set forth by OSHA and the local government, track the waste from start to finish, identify the potential risks and develop plans to eliminate them. This will protect you and your facility from excessive scrutiny, and keep your employees protected from potential harm.

Some OSHA Statistics

1.  At medical offices and clinics, 73% of OSHA penalties cited the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
2.  Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) was also the most frequently violated standard cited by OSHA at residential care facilities, hospitals, AND dental offices.
3.  At medical AND dental offices and clinics, the second most commonly cited standard that resulted in fines was Hazard Communication (HazCom).
4.  HazCom was the 3rd most frequently cited standard that resulted in penalties for hospitals AND residential care facilities.
5.  The deadline for HazCom Training on recent changes to the Hazard Communication Standard is Dec 1, 2013.
6.   Initial amounts for OSHA violations of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard can be as high as $40,000+.
7.    In April 2012, OSHA announced it would be targeting nursing homes and residential care facilities for the next three years. It is also inspecting surgical centers, medical practices, and dental offices.
8.   Proposed OSHA fines for nongovernment healthcare facilities can be as much as $89,000.
9.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 600,000 sharps injuries, such as needlesticks, annually among healthcare workers, placing them at risk of exposure to viruses for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
10.  Other important standards for healthcare related offices and facilities are Respiratory Protection, Portable Fire Extinguishers, and Eyewash requirements.