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Waste Management

1. Responsibility

All organisations have a legal responsibility to dispose of waste safely, ensuring no harm is caused either to staff, members of the public or the environment. This responsibility begins when waste is generated and ends with its final disposal - even where properly authorised agents are used.
It is essential that persons handling waste exercise care to prevent injury or transmission of infection to themselves or others. This is to fulfill their responsibilities under the current legislation. Healthcare waste must be categorized and segregated according to the Segregation, Packaging and Storage Guidelines for Healthcare Risk Waste issued by the Dept. of health and Children (April 2004)

2. Introduction

Good waste management is important to:

• Reduce the health and safety risk to staff and clients from waste
• Protect the environment
• Reduce waste disposal costs.

Waste regulation requires the classification of waste on the basis of hazard characteristics and point of production. Examples are given in Figure 1 below.

3. Definition of Healthcare Waste

Healthcare risk waste is defined in the Guidelines referred to above. Items contaminated with blood or other bloody boy fluids are potentially infectious and should be treated as healthcare risk waste. This includes blood stained dressings, tissue paper, paper towels used up mop up spills, gloves and aprons which are blood stained. The waste should be placed in a yellow plastic bag which is clearly marked for the waste contained in the bag. These bags should carry a UN code number. This waste and sharpbins require collection by a designed collector who is registered and licensed.

Household waste is considered as any other waste e.g. paper, plastic containers etc., which should be placed in black bags within a foot operated pedal bin and disposed of as normal household waste.

Segregation of Waste

BAGS MUST NOT BE USED FOR SHARP OR BREAKABLE ITEMS OR FOR LIQUIDS
YELLOW BAGS MUST BE SECURELY CLOSED WITH CABLE TIE WHEN 2/3 FULL
DO NOT OVER FILL BAGS OR BINS
BINS MUST BE SECURELY CLOSED WHEN 2/3 FULL OR AT MANUFACTURER'S FILL LINE
LABEL ALL RISK WASTE APPROPRIATELY PRIOR TO COLLECTION

Always use black or clear bags for non-risk waste

 

5. General Principles for Handling of Waste
• Waste should be segregated at the point of origin
• Personal protective clothing should be worn when handling waste

Waste should be:
Correctly bagged in appropriate colour-coded bags;
Double bagged where:
− The exterior of the bag is contaminated
− The original bag is split, damaged or leaking
− Kept in a rigid-sided, fire-retardant holder or container with a foot-operated lid, and, so far as is reasonably practicable, out of the reach of children
− Only filled to ¾ full at the end of the day
− Securely sealed and labelled with coded tags at the point of use to identify their source

Waste should not be:
− Decanted into other bags, regardless of volume
− Contaminated on the outside

 

5.1 Disposal of Sharps

Fully discharged syringes, needles, razors, ampoules and other sharps should always be placed in an appropriate sharps container. These items should never be placed in a waste bag of any kind.
Care should be taken to ensure that sharps containers are correctly assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use the appropriately sized sharps container to prevent used sharps being stored for long periods of time.
Sharps containers must be sealed, labelled with the point of origin and placed in the designated clinical waste collection point when ¾ full.
Sharps containers should conform to the BS 7230/UN 3291 standards.

 

6. Storage of Waste

Hazardous waste should be removed from point of generation as frequently as circumstances demand, and at least weekly.
Between collections, waste should be:

  • Stored in correctly coded bags, with bags of each colour-code kept separate
  • Situated in a centrally designated area of adequate size related to the frequency of collection
  • Sited on a well-drained, impervious hard-standing floor, which is provided with wash-down facilities
  • Kept secure from unauthorised persons, entry by animals and free from infestations
  • Accessible to collection vehicles.

 

 

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