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The proper management and disposal of clinical waste is critical because of the many potential risks associated with improper handling. It is also critical to ensure that less clinical waste ends up in landfill. There are many ways to ensure that clinical waste is properly and safely disposed of. Using the following tips will ensure that your clinical waste disposal process is efficient and compliant with the law.
Registration is the Law
Practices which generate more than 500kg of hazardous waste each year need to be registered with the Environment Agency. This registration will require compliance with the Environment Protection Act, and include a registration number. This number is required by hazardous waste regulations to appear on all hazardous waste that is collected, including fluorescent tubes, lead acid batteries, electrical equipment, pesticides and any chemicals.
Proper Training of Staff is Crucial
The practice should ensure that regular training is carried out for the proper handling of clinical waste. Waste minimisation, proper segregation and compliance are all areas which should be covered in staff training. Training should leave no room for non-compliance and ensure that all staff understand the difference between acceptable and non-acceptable methods of segregating waste.
Make Use of Colour Guides and Segregate Waste Correctly
Soft clinical waste must be segregated at the point of production. This is done by following the colour-coded guidance system provided in the Department of Health’s “Safe Management of Healthcare Waste” guide (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-the-safe-management-of-healthcare-waste). The use of waste segregation posters can also help staff to dispose of waste correctly, serving as constant reminders of the best practice for waste segregation at your place of business.
The correct segregation of waste occurs on site, with only clinical waste being disposed into clinical waste bags. Items including uncontaminated paper products and instrument packaging can enter into general waste.
Soft clinical waste must be placed into a lidded unit that’s operated automatically or by foot, and not one that is touched with the hands. Clinical waste bags must be filled in such a way as to allow sufficient room for secure tying by a post-coded bag tie or simple knot.
All Waste should be Safely Stored
Clinical waste should be stored out of the way of staff and patients. Waste can be stored outside in a wheelie bin, or inside a locked cupboard or room. Regardless of the method used to store clinical waste, it must be done in such a way as to prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, waste needs to be secure enough that children and animals have no access to it.
Ensure Proper Management by Taking Responsibility
Before collection occurs, all waste must be post coded. This will allow waste carriers to identify who is responsible for the waste being collected, and allows practices to comply with the statutory Duty of Care, which requires producers of controlled waste to ensure that the waste their business produces is properly managed and correctly tagged.
Each time waste is collected at your site, you must ensure that you’ve received a copy of the paperwork, as well as a signed and dated consignment note for hazardous waste. This note is proof that waste was collected and will be transported for final disposal. Included with the paperwork received should be the EWC code for each type of waste, a complete description of the type of waste, shipping requirements, and those individuals involved with waste transfer, along with addresses for all sites. The paperwork should be stored on the practice premises.
Ensuring that the above tips are followed will prevent human health and the environment from being harmed. It will also help staff to have no doubt about whether further steps need to be taken in order to be compliant with regulations.