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February 2020

Are you disposing of health care risk waste correctly?

Written by Peta Florus
Medical Waste

We’ve all - at some stage in our lives - been to a medical practice or hospital for a blood test, injection or even a procedure. Have you ever taken note of how the needles and other medical waste get disposed of?

If you think about it, sharp instruments like needles and scalpels are meant to cut into or puncture your skin and if they are not disposed of correctly they can injure an unsuspecting person. Bloody swabs and soiled bandages could also spread illness and infection.

It goes without saying that regulations are strict and highly legislated in the medical industry. So how do you know if you are disposing of these items according to legislation? Do you need a contractor? And who is ultimately responsible for the disposal of these items?

Do you need a healthcare risk waste contractor?

The type of healthcare waste you are generating in your facility will dictate whether you need a contractor or not, as well as the type of contractor you may require. Our quick guideline can help you find out if you need a medical waste disposal service and how to make sure you choose the correct service provider.

At Initial, our waste disposal services are designed to help you manage your medical waste effectively and to be fully compliant with the latest legislation.

Regulations and guidelines on the management of health care risk waste

In a previous blog, my colleague discusses all you need to know about the Regulations Relating to Health Care Waste Management in Health Establishments (National Health Care Act, 2003, Act no 61 of 2003). She also went on to unpack how these regulations are supported by good practice guidelines for the Management of Health Care Waste from the Health Professions Council (HPCSA) in which it states that it is the “responsibility of all health care practitioners to have a health care waste management system in place, or to have access to such a system”.

In the good practice guideline they go on to say that all medical sharps should be considered hazardous healthcare waste, whether or not they are contaminated with infectious agents, and that a sharps disposal container should:

  • not puncture easily,
  • be stable and durable to withstand a fall onto a hard surface,
  • have a lid that is "capable of being tightly secured” and
  • should be clearly labelled as containing sharps.

Who is responsible for the disposal of health care risk waste?

Again we refer to a previous blog about medical waste contractors where we state that “Our legislation designates the facility at which the waste is produced as the “waste generator” who is ultimately responsible for the waste from "cradle to grave". This means that there is a legal requirement for the waste generator to know where and how their waste is disposed of.”

“The legislation doesn't expect hospitals and doctors to dispose of their medical waste themselves - that would be unrealistic - but to ensure that there is someone on-site (a waste management officer) who is responsible for the day to day operation and monitoring of the waste plan and that this plan includes the responsible disposal of healthcare risk waste by a waste management contractor.“

Initial has created a range of waste disposal posters to display in your medical rooms as a reminder to ensure that correct waste disposal methods are adhered to: keeping you, your staff and your patients safe.
Download Waste Disposal Posters

To ensure your business meets health and safety standards for both your customers and employees contact Initial Hygiene.

Peta Florus

Peta Florus

Peta is the Marketing Analyst at Rentokil Initial and has over the years been exposed to all aspects of both the hygiene and pest businesses, sometimes in too much gruesome detail. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences by adding a humorous twist to her blogs while subtly creating awareness around the benefits of good hygiene, and inspiring people to take up the hygiene challenge and combat germs and pests at home and in the workplace. You can find Peta on Linkedin.

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