Proper waste disposal is essential to keep the environment clean and to avoid harming the people within the community. Every household, business, and hospital must have proper management of their rubbish.
Hospital waste is the most hazardous of all, as these may contain chemicals, contaminated medical stuff, and materials with infectious diseases. Hospitals should follow a more strict and organised waste management system to help keep their surroundings and workers safe.
All hospitals should consider these factors in their waste management: proper handling, collection, storage, and transportation.
Proper handling of waste
Proper treatment and segregation are part of the proper handling of hospital waste materials. The waste producer should segregate the waste into the nearest designated segregation bins.
Everyone must separate all the waste into color-coded plastic bags for organised waste storage and disposal. The recommended colors for each category of healthcare waste are:
- Yellow containers labeled ‘highly infectious’ are for infectious waste. The recommended container should be sturdy and leak-proof to avoid the leakage of viruses and bacteria from waste products.
- Yellow with no label plastic bag or container is for anatomical and pathological wastes. The container recommended for this category must be leak-proof and seal well. Use only the recommended containers as these are still hazardous waste.
- Yellow containers with the label ‘sharps’ are for sharp objects used in hospitals, such as needles and scalpels. Throw these waste products into puncture-proof containers to avoid materials from sticking out and puncturing people who handle the trash.
- Place chemical and pharmaceutical waste materials, such as medicines and bleach, into a brown plastic bag or container. You can refer to the BuzzRX waste procedure for the proper disposal of medicines.
- Radioactive wastes do not use a universal color when segregating these waste materials. The colour used in segregating radioactive wastes varies in different locations. But the universal rule for segregating these types of waste is to seal the container and label the container with a radioactive symbol.
- Segregate and throw general wastes from the hospital into black containers. This category is the least hazardous type of waste and placing it in a simple rubbish bag should be enough. Waste from the hospital cafeteria is one example of this category.
Health care workers, including nurses and physicians, should seal the waste bags when they reaches three-quarters full. Everyone must keep all the rubbish checked to maintain a clean and healthy work environment for all healthcare workers.
Everyone must avoid accumulating waste products to ensure proper and clean storage and transport. An established routine collection of these waste materials is necessary to avoid the build-up of rubbish and hazardous products within the premises.
Collect the wastes daily and avoid collecting any rubbish bag with no proper label. After collecting the waste, the rubbish bags or containers need replacement with new ones.
Next to proper handling of waste is proper storage. Hence, after segregating all hospital waste, store them by following a strict guideline.
The waste storage location should be within the hospital premises only. Assign a separate building for storing all the rubbish bags and containers. The building size should depend on the amount of waste generated by the establishment.
On-site transportation of the waste products must start with transporting all the waste collected, such as rubbish bags, containers or boxes, using a trolley or a cart. Ensure that the trolleys or carts are for transporting these wastes only. Avoid using it for other products, especially consumable items such as medicine and food.
All the machinery used to transport waste products should not have sharp edges that could puncture the containers and bags during transport. It should also be easy to clean and to load and unload.
For off-site transportation, the healthcare waste producer regulates and controls the system of transported waste products. They are also the ones who should label all the garbage containers to allow its transport to its destination. They should also be the one who will prepare and pack the rubbish.
The packaging and labeling of the bags and containers should follow the national mandate of safe and proper waste disposal of hazardous waste. Seal all garbage for off-site transport to prevent spillage during transit. All waste containers should be sturdy enough to withstand pressure, temperature changes and vibrations.
Every establishment, including hospitals and research facilities with contaminants of infectious diseases on their waste product, should comply with the regulations. Improper handling of hazardous wastes has its risk and consequences that the hospital management should consider.
All hospitals worldwide should follow a world health standard in medical waste handling. This practice is to keep the community safe from the hazardous effects of all the waste materials while also keeping health workers within the hospital safe. Thus, following the safety guidelines of proper waste disposal is a must.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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