Your guide to Clinical Waste
What is Clinical Waste?
Clinical waste is usually produced from healthcare institutions such as dentists, hospitals, surgeries, private hospitals and similar organisations involved in the medical field. Types of waste include oxidising substances, toxic substances, infectious substances, radioactive materials and corrosive substances. Clinical waste usually includes sharps, needles, syringes, medicine, swabs, gauzes, bandages, plasters, and any other objects that may contain biological matter. Some clinical waste maybe classified as hazardous waste, for example medicines. This is because some medicines may cause harm to others.
Recommendations for storing Clinical Waste
The floor should be impermeable, with good draining. Wood would be a bad idea if clinical fluids leak, they have the possibility to escape.
Like with hazardous waste, it is highly important to have easy access for those in charge of the wast as well as your waste collection company.
If necessary, you should have the ability to lock the bin away from unauthorised persons.
Very occasionally, it maybe necessary to shield the waste from direct sunlight.
Avoid installing vents or large windows so that the area is inaccessible for animals, insects and birds.
Ensure those operating with the waste have good lighting so not to cause any mismanagement.
An accidental kit should be nearby in case of any spillages or accidents. This kit should include personal protective equipment, sharp-proof rubber gloves and waste bags.
Clinical Waste Collection
Prior to collection it is essential to double confirm your collection time and location of your first pick up. You want to minimise the time clinical waste is stored onsite as this increases the risk for you and others. All waste must be correctly and clearly labelled so that your waste collection company can properly dispose of the clinical waste. If your waste is stored in a secured area, make sure your collector can access the waste or you place the waste in a convenient location for them to collection upon arrival.
What happens after your waste is collected?
Given the biological nature of the waste, it must be properly destroyed. In order to do this there are a variety of methods. The first and most used method is thermal treatment. Here waste is incinerated at high temperatures so that all biological matter and packaging is destroyed. One variation of thermal treatment involves using autoclave treatment where steam and high pressure is used to sterilise the waste. Of course, liquids cannot be burned and so these must be treated chemically to neutralise the harmful components of the liquid. For those who paid attention during their chemistry classes will know the sub list of possible chemical reactions. These include precipitation, neutralisation, ion exchange and oxidisation or reduction (where electrons are intentionally added or removed in order to make the products more stable). The final method is irradiation. Typically sharps and infection waste will need irradiation. The most preferred form is microwaves. Their long wavelength makes microwaves suitable for annihilating biological matter.
As a clinical waste producer, it is incredibly important to understand how to adequately store and prepare your waste for collection. Perhaps the most important aspect is to simply ask your waste collector if you have any doubts.