An Insight into The State Regulations About Regulated Medical Waste (RMW)
State guidelines about regulated waste are unambiguous. However, there is still a lot of confusion about this type of waste and its meaning. There is a common misconception that all kinds of bodily fluid waste are regulated waste, but in reality, this type of waste falls under the following State Regulations five separate categories-
- Contaminated sharps
- Semi-liquid or liquid blood
- Items soaked in blood that, if squeezed, release blood
- Specimens and cultures from microbiological and pathological waste, and
- Isolation waste
State and OSHA Guidelines on Regulated Medical Waste
Based on the state regulations and guidelines under OSHA, the generators of regulated medical waste (RMW) are laboratories, healthcare, research organizations, or a medical waste generator.
Medical waste generators refer to a person or an entity whose process or action produces medical waste. They include clinics (dental, medical, and veterinary), hospitals, blood banks, funeral homes, hospices, dialysis centers, and other medical facilities listed under the above guidelines.
Waste that does not fall under RMW
Note that urine, vomit, and non-liquid or solidified blood are not considered to be regulated waste under the state or federal guidelines. Food service establishments like restaurants, grocery stores, and schools do not fall under the classification of medical waste generators. Feces waste, vomit, and solidified blood collected from spills from body fluids in environments dealing with food service are not considered regulated waste as per its definition in the above guidelines.
The other types of medical waste that do not fall under the classification of regulated medical waste include non-contaminated PPE kits like surgical masks, feminine hygiene products that have been used already, urine catheters or bags, and diapers. All of the above waste products do not fall under the list of regulated waste.
Labeling of regulated waste for the protection
The disposal and labeling of regulated waste are expensive and strictly regulated. OSHA states that these warning labels should be affixed to the containers carrying regulated waste during transporting, shipping, and storage. This label is necessary as it communicates the hazards of the regulated waste to employees. Special storage containers and biohazard bags colored in red are the acceptable forms to carry regulated waste.
Disposal of regulated waste
Local and State regulations govern the treatment and the disposal of regulated waste through containers and red bags. Environmental agencies or the departments of health under the State publish these rules. The prescribed ways of treatment for regulated waste include chemical disinfection, incineration, thermal inactivation, sterilization, and other processes.
The medical waste generator enters into a contract with companies dealing with regulated waste to manage its disposal safely. These companies collect the garbage and coordinate its removal and treatment at landfills approved by the State and at other authorized locations.
The above services offered by waste management services are expensive; however, it is to be noted that these companies only collect regulated medical waste, and they do not pick up trash not classified under the above category in the State.