Updated: Jan 23
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers meet biohazardous waste standards in the workplace. These set requirements are in place under the bloodborne pathogens standard for the safety of employees and workers within healthcare or dental facilities. Since the handling of such materials is ultimately unavoidable within the industry, facilities must follow proper safety measures, exposure control plans, and step-by-step procedures to a tee.
The importance of correctly separating biowaste from traditional waste is not only for the health and safety of medical facility workers but also for the health and safety of the public at large. Let’s examine a few of OSHA’s guidelines for biohazard waste removal to help alleviate the threat of hazardous exposure.
Defining the Scope of Biohazardous Waste
Biomedical or biohazardous waste is any waste product containing recognizable human blood, bodily fluids, or infectious materials. This includes dressings, gauze, containers, and other products or equipment that are noticeably contaminated with such fluids and thereby potentially harmful to a human being upon direct contact. Comparatively, paper products, solid waste medical products, or other articles or materials containing non-fluid blood are not classified as this regulated waste.
OSHA’s Regulated Waste Categories
As OSHA’s main focus revolves around worker safety, biohazardous standards and regulations are about proper handling of medical waste and sharps. OSHA’s guidelines for biohazard waste removal initiates upon the start of material’s use until final disposal. Under these regulations, OSHA defines several specific categories of disposal—they are as follows: liquid or at least semi-liquid blood, other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), items contaminated with either of the above, packages containing dried blood or OPIM, and contaminated sharps.
Guidelines specifically for sharps handling include immediate closure upon replacement or removal, placement in a closable, secondary container, additional security measures to prevent possible leakage, and proper labeling or color-coding of the container.
Labeling and Training Requirements
OSHA biohazardous waste removal guidelines require warning labels on any bags or containers of biohazardous waste. These labels include the term “biohazard” and clear universal symbols. This communication is vital for employees alongside thorough employee training about PPE usage and correct handling of hazardous materials during the workday. Each team member or office employee must receive new hire education and annual training.
Posted: May 12, 2021