Sunday, August 11, 2013
Why Can't I Compact Medical Biohazard Waste?
You Should Never Compact Medical Waste
Never compact medical waste! In my 15 years of providing biohazard medical waste disposal, I have seen many interesting things. One question I receive often is, can we compact our medical waste? Well the answer to this is NO.
In short, several reasons apply. Most medical waste disposal companies will use a corrugated cardboard medical waste box, or reusable tubs. For this discussion, we will use the medical waste cardboard box. Most providers will use an industry standard, 30 gallon cardboard box, with a 3 mil red biohazard bag or liner.
Most boxes will be about 18 inches wide, the same deep and about 24 inches tall. These measurements will vary from provider to provider, but this will be the norm.
Now most of these boxes will also have a weight limit, again the standard I have seen is about 45 pounds. This weight limit will come from different variables, box design, size of box, State regulations, etc. But, for argument sake, we will use 45 pounds. We recommend to our customers a 40 pound weight limit, giving the customer a little extra room, to go over.
In my time of providing service, I have seen people step on waste with their foot, use a broom, a box with weights to compress waste, I even had a customer with his own trash compactor that would compact waste and needles. Then he would put the trash compactor bag, in the medical waste box.For many reasons, this is not SAFE. A person should never reach into a medical waste box, press on or step on medical waste. Also, medical waste boxes are usually handled by a driver or (Waste Technician) when the boxes reach weights over 45lbs, it is difficult for them to handle. Another problem is boxes coming apart, if the box is overweight, it may implode. This leads to a possible environmental issue and your driver being exposed to infectious medical waste.
In this case, the medical waste box will need to be re-packed and your provider will probably issue you a re-packing fee, or overweight charge.
Incomplete Waste DestructionNow, as far as treatment is concerned, again most disposal companies will use one of two standard treatment processes. Incineration or autoclave, for either one, this is where compaction really becomes a problem.
For complete incineration, whenever the medical waste is compacted, complete destruction by incineration may not be met. When this happens, the disposal facility will need to recycle recognizable waste through the entire process again. Costing time, money and more environmental exposure for having to do something twice.In steam sterilization, the same can happen, during treatment, the steam saturation, for complete sterilization, may not be met. Meaning the disposal facility may need to re-treat or the waste could be sent to a landfill without being properly treated. As with incineration, Costing time, money and more environmental exposure for having to do something twice.
In either case, this is unacceptable, the biohazard waste treatment and disposal process, is a pennies business. Meaning, the margins are tight to begin with, most providers spend countless hours, refining the process to provide a compliant service, while saving the customer money, all the while trying to protect the environment.
So, in the end, NEVER compact medical infectious waste!Examples provided are just that, EXAMPLES.
Regulations change from the federal government, also from State to State, in addition, your Biohazard Waste Disposal Company, may have their own special rules and regulations for packing and handling medical waste.