Articles, Insights, and Updates

2020/11/12

How Improperly Disposed of Medical Waste is Putting Everyone at Risk

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. hospitals and medical practices generate approximately six million tons of solid waste annually. Fifteen percent of the total waste generated by hospitals and medical practices can be categorized as infectious medical waste. While much of the infectious waste is generated by the healthcare industry, in today’s environment combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses, offices, and other non-healthcare related industries are generating potentially infectious waste that must be disposed of appropriately and according to local, state, and federal laws. How is your medical practice or office disposing its medical waste? If it’s being disposed of improperly it can be putting your business, your employees, the environment, and the population at risk. Here’s how.

biomedical waste removal

Spreading of Infections and Diseases

Medical waste that is not disposed according to regulatory requirements has the potential to spread infections and diseases to patients, employees, or anyone coming into contact with infectious waste. A wide range of industries, such as veterinarians, tattoo shops, medical offices, and funeral homes to list a few are known to use sharp objects like needles to perform their services or tend to patients. If a needle were to stick an unsuspecting person, not only will it cause damage to the skin, but the person would also be at risk for contracting illnesses such as:

  • HIV
  • Measles
  • Streptococcus pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral hepatitis A, B, and C

Financial Risks

If someone were to get injured due to your negligence because of improperly disposed of medical waste, they could file a lawsuit against your business. Lawsuits are not cheap. You could be stuck paying for attorney fees, court fees, compensation, and more. Even with insurance, it can still be an expensive lawsuit to handle.

Legal Risks

There are federal and state laws that define how medical waste should be disposed of and they can vary. If you don’t follow the regulations and laws for disposing of your medical waste, you could face legal problems. This includes fines, penalties, and possibly jail time.

Community & Environmental Risks

Medical waste can not only affect people, but also the environment and in our communities. It has the potential to contaminate groundwater sources, produce air pollutants, and get into the systems of wildlife. If medical waste isn’t disposed of properly, it’s not a matter of if it will negatively impact the environment, but a matter of how much it will impact the environment.

How to Avoid These Risks

One way to avoid these risks is to educate staff and employees on the hazards of improperly handling and disposing of any waste stream your facility generates. Understanding the different waste types and regulated waste containers will help keep potentially infectious waste stored properly and limit any risk of injury. For a list of waste classifications, check out our resource guide here.

Following local, state, and federal guidelines and continuously monitoring safety practices in the workplace will help keep your organization compliant.  The Occupational Safety and Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations regarding handling of bloodborne pathogens, workplace safety, and on-going training requirements for various workplace hazards. OSHA Compliance is one way you can ensure that your employees know how to handle medical waste and can protect you against these risks.

After your employees have learned how to handle medical waste and educated on the risks in your veterinary, medical or dental office, laboratory, or hospital, a medical waste disposal company can take it from there.

Let BWS Help

Remember that disposing of medical waste is your responsibility even after a medical waste disposal company picks it up. For that reason, it’s important that you choose a medical waste disposal company, such as us at Biomedical Waste Services, that understands the gravity of medical waste compliance and won’t put you at risk. Not only will we dispose of your medical waste properly, but we also offer a comprehensive, online OSHA compliance training program for employers and staff of all kinds.

Want to learn more? Give us a call today or click here to request a quote.

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“Our office has been utilizing the services of Biomedical Waste Services, Inc. (BWS) for well over a decade. Their caring, dedicated, and professional team have made it an absolute pleasure to do business with. They are always prompt and courteous in providing whatever service we ask of them. We highly recommend them for your practice!!”

Paul R Miller, D.D.S. and Team

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ZytoGen Patient Services

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“BWS has been handling our biohazardous waste disposal for three years. They have always been helpful and dependable. I recommend them to all who need biohazardous waste disposal services.”

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“Great option for healthcare waste management. BWS is an independent owned professional organization that is built on integrity and trust. There is no other company in the region that I'd recommend more. Most others say the right things the folks at BWS do the right thing. I'll continue to recommend them.”

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We are a medical practice in a new location and needed hazardous waste removal services. We have been so pleased with the level of service and professionalism on both the admin and field work end of BWS services, and their pricing is fair and flexible. We would highly recommend them to any medical practice in need of these services.

Kerry Owens, Avalon Plastic Surgery

Every staff member that I have interacted with has been very friendly. They are quick to respond to emails and do a great job.

Jamie Fleming, National Spine & Pain Centers

Excellent company. Received notification that I was on schedule, showed up as promised, and very professional service from office to driver. Excellent service!!!

Keith Roberts, Biomatrix Specialty Pharmacy

Great service! They are always responsive and ready to help. 100% recommended.

Mireia Pedragosa Marin, Synergy Research

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