When it comes to rules and regulations, hospital hazardous waste is considered to be just like any other industrial waste in the eyes of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Proper management, transportation and disposal of hazardous medical waste from hospitals is absolutely critical to ensure compliance with both Federal and State regulations. Not only is this important for environmental protection, but for the safety of healthcare workers and even patients.
We’ve listed the most common hazardous waste violations found in hospitals…and how to resolve them!
Inaccurate or Missing Labeling
Improper labeling is not only a major waste violation, it’s also incredibly dangerous for any workers who come into contact with stored waste. It’s essential to know what you’re working with so you can take proper precautions and safety measures. Hospitals that don’t appropriately label hazardous waste storage containers can be cited for a violation.
Failure to Conduct Waste Determinations
Accurately determining whether the generated waste is considered hazardous is crucial to ensure proper management. Being aware and on top of the type of waste generated will help hospitals avoid any violation of regulations.
Pouring Hazardous Waste in the Drain
Cutting corners can be tempting, especially in the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital. Even if you think at the moment that it may not be a big deal, pouring hazardous waste down the drain as a means of disposal is not only dangerous, but will inevitably end up in a fine, or worse.
Infrequent Inspections of Storage Areas
The areas in which hazardous medical waste is stored should be inspected regularly, without fail – at least once a week or every seven days, regardless of the quantity of the waste generated. This is to help prevent accidents, spills and generally be on top of any changes that may occur with the waste being stored.
Missing a Contingency Plan
Having a hospital contingency plan in place keeps things organized and coordinated so that everyone is on the same page in case of an accident or emergency. This is especially the case at hospitals because they are commonly generators of large quantities of hazardous waste, so there’s extra risk involved. If there are any situations that could threaten the safety of human life or the environment, such as an explosion, fire or leak, a contingency plan will allow all key players to take action swiftly.
Not Training Employees Correctly (or At All)
In addition to having a contingency plan, employee training is an important requirement for the handling of hazardous medical waste. Without sufficient training, workers won’t understand the proper ways to manage waste or how to safely dispose of it. Having proper training will help hospitals keep their employees safe, reduce liability and avoid violations.
Improper Management of Mercury
Mercury is a common hazardous waste found in hospitals and can be especially dangerous when not handled properly. Common hospital equipment that contains mercury can include:
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- Gastric tubes
- Mercury vapor lamps
When no longer serving regular use, each of these materials requires professional disposal by a licensed hazardous waste management company.
Contact the Hazardous Waste Experts at MLI Environmental
Hospitals, like any industrial waste generator, should be disposing of or storing hazardous waste both safely and responsibly. It’s essential to have a strategy in place to ensure any generated waste is managed appropriately.
At MLI Environmental, we understand that the presence of hazardous waste can be challenging to manage if you don’t have the proper education or training. Our experienced team can help you manage or dispose of any biohazardous waste or pharmaceutical waste, as well as assist in preparing for state inspections or audits. To inquire about our services, please request a quote here.