Safe Sharps Disposal: Preventing Needlestick & Sharps Injuries

Needlestick injuries in the workplace are an all too common, yet preventable, hazard. Protect your patients, employees and your business with safe sharps disposal.

The Dangers of Needlestick Injuries

Anyone who handles “sharps” is at risk of a needlestick injury. “Sharps” typically involve needles and syringes but can include scalpels, scissors or any object capable of piercing human skin.

Needlestick injuries can occur whenever people use, disassemble, or dispose of needles (and other sharps). Given that needles are often used for simple and routine procedures, it is easy to dismiss the real danger involved. Yet, sharps can transmit infectious diseases, particularly blood-borne viruses. In severe cases, a needlestick can transmit  HIV (which leads to AIDS), Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

WHO reports in the World Health Report 2002, that of the 35 million health-care workers reported on,

2 million health-care workers are exposed to infectious diseases through needlestick injuries each year.

WHO also reported that 37.6% of Hepatitis B, 39% of Hepatitis C and 4.4% of HIV/AIDS in healthcare workers around the world were caused by needlestick injuries.

When a needle is contaminated with Hepatitis B virus, a needlestick injury in the workplace results in a 6% to 30% chance that an exposed person will become infected (according to the Ontario Hospital Association/Ontario Medical Association 2016). Worse still is that the worker who used the needle is not the only person at risk. If a needle is not disposed of properly and pokes through packaging or garbage, other workers may become exposed to it unexpectedly.

Preventing Injury with Safe Disposal

Safe sharps disposal is one of the best ways to prevent workplace needlstick injuries. The American Hospital Association estimated that $1 billion annually is saved by preventing needlestick injuries among healthcare workers in the US, this includes the costs of lab work, testing, counseling, and follow-up.

GIC guidelines for safe sharps disposal:

1) Obtain the appropriate containers, boxes, and liners from GIC.

  • GIC offers the highest quality products, manufactured according to the highest global compliance standards.
  • Containers should be readily available and conveniently placed wherever sharps are to be used.

2) Discard sharps waste into our premier quality containers.

  • With GIC, you can dispose of your sharps in containers which are puncture resistant and safe. Your staff can benefit from needle removing mechanisms, a lid which can be reopened until the container is full and permanently sealed once the container reaches capacity.
  • It is safest to replace containers when they are three-quarters full.

3) Once your container or containers are at capacity, place them in the disposal box (with liner) and call GIC for a pickup.  With one call, your work is done. GIC will be there as often as you need, taking the waste off your hands and off your mind.

Workplace Duties of Employers

Most states/provinces/jurisdictions have their own occupational health and safety legislation. Each of Canada’s provinces and territories has one. “WHMIS” is “right-to-know” legislation for hazardous products and applies in all Canadian workplaces which are covered by occupational health and safety legislation and where WHMIS regulated hazardous products are used.

WHMIS legislation imposes the following duties on employers:

    • educate and train workers on the hazards and safe use of hazardous products in the workplace;
    • ensure that hazardous products are properly labeled;
    • prepare workplace labels and SDSs (safety data sheet); and,
    • ensure appropriate control measures are in place to protect the health and safety of workers.

Workplace Duties of Employees

WHMIS legislation imposes the following duties on employees:

    • participate in WHMIS and chemical safety training programs;
    • take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their co-workers; and,
    • participate in identifying and controlling hazards.

Reduce the needlestick risk – take precautions and dispose of your sharps safely!

Medical Disposal Bins

How To Manage Waste To Reduce Medical Waste Disposal Costs

Garbage is garbage, right? Wrong.

Your medical practice is paying thirteen times the cost for regulated medical waste disposal compared to municipal waste charges.

The amount of healthcare waste is growing. Environmental regulations are getting tougher and tougher. You have to be compliant with all the regulations. No compromise.

Compromising on not following all the hazardous waste and health and safety laws means you are putting your staff, patients and the general public at risk. The pathogens you could release into the environment are deadly.

So, how do you minimize the amount of “regulated” medical waste disposal costs in a highly regulated environment?

Reduce Medical Waste Disposal Costs:

If you truly want to reduce unnecessary costs you will need to get your staff organized and make a plan.

Focus on what you can control. Put the proper waste disposal containers in a convenient place and put a big sign on it. Train your staff…constantly.

Separate bio-hazardous (red bag) waste from the rest. You’ll be surprised to find that as much as 85 percent of hospital or clinical waste is simply trash that can be processed by the municipality so, for the most part, if your staff cooperates with the plan you come up with, you don’t have to pay the relatively expensive medical waste disposal fees for most of the waste in your medical practice.

Use biohazard red waste bags for the following

  • – Fluid blood
  • – Blood saturated items
  • – Bags and IV tubing containing blood products
  • – Suction canisters
  • – Hemovacs
  • – Chest drainage units
  • – Hemodialysis products

Set Up A Streamlined Medical Waste Management Process:

Educate your staff on what goes in the red bags. Set goals and do waste assessments and monitor proper use of red waste disposal bags. Unless visibly soiled with blood, the following items DO NOT belong in red bag trash:

Bed pans
Empty specimen containers
Dressings and gauze
Diapers / Incontinence pads
Masks, gowns, gloves
Suction tubing
Vent tubing
Emesis basins
Paper towels
IV bags
Casts and splints
Packaging materials
Foley bags and catheters
Alcohol preps
Used food service items
Used paper towels and tissues

Other things you can do to reduce medical waste disposal costs:

Do a medical waste disposal audit several times a year. Track progress and reward success.
Strategically place red bags and bins where they are needed and take them away from where they are not needed.
Implement a reusable sharps container program. Syringes, needles, blades, scalpels, lancets, broken glass, and any other contaminated sharp object should be placed in sharps containers.
Reduce red bag and red medical waste containers by improving efficiency in processes.
Provide the correct size of waste disposal containers in the right places.
Reduce the frequency of waste disposal pick up by consolidating waste whenever possible.
GIC Medical Disposal is a full service medical waste management company. We can help you do a complete audit of your medical waste disposal processes, set up protocols and train your staff. Of course, we also provide all the waste disposal bags and containers you would need.

Call for a quote and experience the difference great service can mean to your peace of mind and bottom line.

Boxing Bottles

Compliance: How To Prepare Your Hazardous Medical Waste For Transport

Medical waste disposal laws change often. Unless you make it your full time business, there will always be rules that you don’t know about. On the other hand, if you get audited, you will be held responsible for any breaches of the law even if you thought you would be in compliance. Hefty fines for non-compliance are never welcome.

The issue of transporting medical waste often gets overlooked and the auditors know that. Here are some guidelines to help you stay in compliance when preparing your medical wastes for disposal.

It is always a good idea to get regular updates and training from people who are in the medical waste management business. GIC Medical Disposal has dedicated people to assess your compliance level and train your staff on the latest regulations.

Medical Waste Disposal Compliance Issues Related To Transportation

Improper Packaging Of Waste

Hazardous medical waste must be transported in approved containers. Make sure you use rigid containers with a DOT stamp of approval on them. These containers are leak-proof, tamper-proof, spill-proof, puncture resistant and reusable.

DOT approved sharps waste disposal containers are made of thick plastic that cannot be punctured with needles, blades, scalpels, lancets, broken glass, or any other contaminated sharp objects commonly found in your medical clinic. If you get the right kind of sharps container, they are designed to be opened by robots, cleaned, disinfected and returned to you for reuse. This is a great way to meet safety standards and still save money.

Consider NOT Transporting Your Medical Waste To “Save Money”

Some people think they are saving money by not hiring a professional waste disposal company to transport their waste to a disposal facility.

There are two areas where you are likely to fall short:

1. You may need a permit to transport the medical waste unless it is less than fifty pounds

2. If you are transporting less than 50 pounds, it still needs to be packaged in approved DOT containers.

Applying for a permit is expensive and requires many hours of training classes. Regulations often change, so you will need to keep upgrading your training, in order to stay compliant.

Use The Correct Waste Disposal Container

As soon as you put the label “waste” on a container, a whole new set of regulations become applicable. Contact a compliant waste disposal company to make sure your container is suitable to transport the type of waste you are considering.

Consider Who Signs The Manifest For Transporting Medical Waste

The person signing off on the medical waste manifest must have the proper training. When the inspectors come for an audit, they will ask for the person who signed the manifest. They will ask about his / her training papers and details of the nature of the medical waste. They will also ask a series of questions regarding the waste, how it was packaged, transported and handled. If there is any lack in his / her authority on the subject, you are likely to get a citation.

Whoever signs the manifest for waste pickup must have had the proper DOT training and knowledge behind the medical waste.

Choose The Right Container For Each Type Of Waste

No one container is appropriate for all types of waste. Each kind of medical waste has to be categorized and packaged appropriately. You are not allowed to mix different categories of waste. The higher risk a type of infectious waste poses to humans, the higher standard of container you need.

It is a serious matter to violate government regulations around medical waste disposal. A violation of the law could cost you money, your job or worse yet, improper handling of hazardous waste can harm your coworkers, patients and even the general public.

Work closely with an established medical waste disposal company that is willing to provide their expertise to find the most cost efficient, safe, compliant way to handle your medical waste disposal.

Call GIC Medical Disposal for a quote or to discuss your needs in safely transporting your medical waste.