It’s no surprise that healthcare facilities produce their fair share of waste. With the number of people coming in and out of a single facility on any given day, things start to add up. Therefore, the proper disposal of material is important, but not all waste is created equal. Contrary to what you might think, close to 85% of waste generated in a healthcare setting is actually non-hazardous. This includes things you can simply toss in a trash can or sort into their respective recycling bins. It’s the remaining 15% that needs to be carefully handled and disposed of in order to keep your facility, patients, workforce, and the general public safe.
What kind of waste is this, you may ask? It’s hazardous material—think anything that’s toxic, infectious, or radioactive. Proper disposal of these types of materials will help you protect your team, patients, and the environment, but what does that involve? Here, we’ll go over everything you need to know regarding how to properly dispose of hazardous materials.
What is Hazardous Material?
Throughout a typical day, healthcare facilities produce several different types of waste. As mentioned, a lot of this is non-hazardous and poses no serious risk to the public. However, within that remaining 15%, hazardous materials can be further broken down. The first step in proper disposal is being able to differentiate between the types of materials, as they all require a unique process of discarding. According to the World Health Organization, some of the most common types include:
- Infectious waste: waste that’s come in contact with blood or other bodily fluids, infectious agents, or waste from patients with infections
- Pathological waste: any type of human tissue, organs, or fluids
- Sharps waste: things like syringes, needles, scalpels, etc.
- Chemical waste: types of solvents or reagents that are needed in labs, sterilizing agents, or things containing heavy metals and batteries
- Pharmaceutical waste: drugs or vaccines that may have been contaminated, unused, or expired
- Cytotoxic waste: any type of waste that includes genotoxic properties
- Radioactive waste: products that have been contaminated by radionuclides or radiotherapeutic materials
Dangers of Improperly Disposing of Hazardous Material
These days, the impacts of our combined behavior on the environment are pretty apparent. With the rising sea levels, warming temperatures, catastrophic natural events… It’s impossible to deny. Human behavior can make or break the future of this planet. We need more clean practices, green initiatives, and stronger attention to how we manage waste—especially when it’s hazardous. Otherwise, you may create by-products and be responsible for adverse health outcomes. Improper disposal can lead to personal injuries, the transmission of illness, exposure to toxic products, long-term health effects, air pollution, thermal injuries, and more. It can also contaminate land and water and release chemicals into the air. The risks just aren’t worth it, plain and simple.
Properly disposing of hazardous materials usually requires a degree of expertise in medical-grade cleaning. Rather than trying to deal with things internally, partnering with Bee Line can help you create a stronger frontline of defense and keep your people safe.
5 Steps to Disposing of Hazardous Material with a Clean Conscious
Disposing of hazardous materials in a safe, effective way is one of the most important parts of operating your medical facility. Luckily, with cutting-edge technology, well-trained teams, and an all-inclusive professional cleaning company, you’ll have no issues meeting regulatory guidelines that protect your people.
1. Properly Classify the Waste
The first step in properly disposing of hazardous material from your healthcare facility is identifying it. You’ll need to be able to differentiate between the types of materials, their potential hazards, and any relevant disposal guidelines. On a basic level, this means putting sharp waste into protected containers until it can be professionally removed from your facility, having a separate bin for infectious waste, and understanding how to handle the pharmaceutical waste.
Proper classification doesn’t necessarily mean that your internal staff is responsible for transporting hazardous materials out of your facility. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to help lower the risk of injury or exposure throughout normal operating hours. For more information on classifications, consider familiarizing yourself with the necessary Safety Data Sheets.
2. Separate and Store
When you properly classify the waste, it also allows you to take a proactive approach to separate and store it. This means throwing things in their respective receptacles throughout the day. In doing so, you can help minimize risk and make for easier disposal at the end of the day. For the most effective separation, make sure that you discuss guidelines for disposal with all of your staff. Hazardous materials should be packaged in a way that prevents leakage and is clearly labeled with the type of hazard and appropriate warning symbols.
However, never try to manually sort hazardous material that hasn’t been separated, as doing so can increase your risk of exposure to infectious diseases. Instead, work with Bee Line. Bee Line provides healthcare cleaning and hazardous material disposal to help keep your patients protected and your facilities at the highest standard of cleanliness.
3. Determine the Appropriate Disposal Method
Next, you should learn the appropriate disposal methods for each type of hazardous material. Keeping them separate in your facility is only a small portion of safety. Disposing of them appropriately is what helps safeguard the public and the environment from potentially catastrophic adverse effects. You may be able to recycle some types of hazardous material, but most of it will need to undergo treatment and then be disposed of in a designated hazardous waste landfill.
There are three primary methods of disposal: landfills, recycling, or incineration. Disposing of hazardous material typically involves burying waste in a landfill in a manner that will not cause environmental contaminants. Recycling is the process of reusing materials when possible. Incineration burns waste materials to completely eradicate it. Partnering with a medical-grade cleaning company like Bee Line means you won’t need to deal with this step, so you can focus on keeping your facility working at its best.
4. Adhere to Regulatory Guidelines
Another key step in properly disposing of hazardous material is making sure to follow any and all regulations and guidelines. This includes federal, state, and local laws, as well as any standards established by industries or professional organizations. Keep in mind that some types of hazardous materials, such as batteries, electronics, and light bulbs, may have also specific disposal regulations and should not be disposed of in regular waste.
5. Partner with an Authorized Cleaning Professional
For large-scale disposal, it’s often best to partner with an authorized cleaning professional who understands how to handle hazardous waste disposal. They will hold the proper licensing and certifications, making them equipped to safely handle and dispose of the waste from your healthcare facility.
When looking for a reputable cleaning company, Bee Line is here to help. As the region’s leading medical-grade cleaning company, our team understands what’s necessary for the safe handling and disposal of all types of waste—including hazardous material. In addition, we provide unparalleled attention to detail when cleaning to keep patients and staff safe and healthy while on-site. Bee Line is equipped with the knowledge, supplies, and protocol necessary for cleaning healthcare facilities and is dedicated to delivering the highest standards of surgical cleaning. To learn more, receive a quote, or employ our emergency services contact Bee Line today by calling 312-BEE-LINE.