All markets are subject to World Health Organisation (WHO) standard mandatory guidelines on the disposal and management of clinical and medical waste. In most countries, there is specific regulation that further supports the safe and responsible management and disposal of clinical and medical waste streams.
The responsible approach to clinical and medical waste management manages the segregation, storage and disposal. The types of waste classified as medical or clinical include infectious waste, sharps disposal, pharmaceutical waste and Coronavirus waste including LFT (Lateral Flow Testing) and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
There are many key trends driving a surge in demand for responsible clinical waste management services. In the short to medium term, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will drive demand for waste management. A worldwide aging population continues to drive demand (linked to incontinence waste management). Increased legislation relating to PPE usage and subsequent disposal will continue to ramp up. The demand for beauty and cosmetic treatments (injectables / tattooing etc) requires the need for sharps containment and safe disposal. The growth indications of the medical and clinical waste industry is estimated at 5.6% growth between now and 2025. The current worldwide value of this industry is estimated to be at $6.8bn
Due to the potential risks associated with the improper handling of clinical waste, its proper management and disposal is vital and there are strict regulations in place to prevent harm being caused to both the environment and to human health. To enable you and those working in your practice to clearly verify if they need to take further steps to become compliant with all regulations, it is important to be up to speed on the considerations you must undertake to ensure the safe disposal of clinical waste.
1. Make sure you follow the colour-coding guidance for all your soft clinical waste
It is essential to segregate clinical waste at the point of production to ensure correct and safe disposal of all your waste streams as shown in the “Safe Management of Healthcare Waste” guidance issued by the Department of Health.
2. Segregate your waste correctly on site, disposing only of clinical waste into your clinical waste bags (instrument packaging and uncontaminated paper products can go into your general waste stream)
Disposing of clinical waste costs a lot more for your organisation than disposing of general waste, and uses more energy.
3. Make sure your soft clinical waste is disposed of into a foot-operated or automatic lidded unit
This means you are not touching the lid with your hands and risking the spread of infection.
4. Do not overfill your clinical waste bags, leave enough space to tie them securely, either with a knot or post-coded bag tie
So you do not risk the bag overflowing and items falling out, also risking the spread of infection.Â If bags are overfilled they may also be overweight, which is a health and safety risk for those who will lift them.
5. Store all clinical waste safely and securely in a designated locked room/cupboard or an external wheelie bin
This means it is out of the path of patients and staff and there is no risk of children or animals getting into it. Under your “Duty of Care” you must ensure your waste is stored safely and securely onsite.
6. Postcode all clinical waste prior to collection by your waste carrier
This shows who has the responsibility for the waste and provides traceability from “cradle to grave”.
The statutory “Duty of Care” applies to everyone involved in the waste management industry. It states that as a producer of any controlled waste, it is your responsibility to ensure correct and proper management of the controlled waste your business produces.
7. Ensure you receive, sign and date a hazardous waste consignment note for every collection of clinical waste from your practice
This shows proof of collection and transportation to onward final disposal.Â All consignments of hazardous (special) waste must be accompanied by the appropriate paperwork. These notes include:
A copy must be stored on the customer's premises.
8. Support colour-coding with waste segregation posters
Ensure your staff have constant reminders of the various waste streams you have on your site and how best to dispose of them following good waste segregation practice.
9. Carry out regular clinical waste training to ensure compliance, correct waste segregation, and waste minimisation, at your practice
This ensures everyone understands good waste segregation practice and has no excuse for not complying.
10. Make sure you register with the Environment Agency if you are generating more than 500kg of hazardous waste per annum
This means you are complying with the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Your EA registration number will then appear on all hazardous waste consignments, which is required under the hazardous waste regulations. Hazardous waste includes not only your clinical waste, but also any chemicals, pesticides, electrical equipment, lead acid batteries, fluorescent tubes and other waste types.
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