Sharps waste is one of the most hazardous types of medical waste that hospitals need to treat. Used in a variety of treatments, it can be highly infectious and needs to be handled with extra care because of its ability to cut or pierce the skin, even through trash bags (which is NOT the right way to store medical sharps).
In this article you will learn more about the basics of the sharps waste disposal process: something that all hospitals need to be aware of in order to avoid drastic fines, and preserve the safety of their staff and patients.
Sharps waste needs to be collected and segregated from other types of medical waste before disposal
Before the disposal of sharps waste can occur, it needs to be collected into special, separate, color-coded containers. The collection and segregation of waste is one of the basic elements of any medical waste management system. As soon as sharps waste is generated, hospital staff will need to do their best to collect it as soon as possible. Color-coding waste is a necessary practise to ensure that all personnel involved in handling hazardous waste like sharps know what they are dealing with.
Due to their nature, sharps waste can easily prick the skin even through trash bags, which is why they need to be collected in puncture-proof containers. These containers can be yellow, red, or even white, but they are almost always marked with the well-recognizable biohazardous symbol.
Storage of sharps waste at hospitals before transportation and disposal
Sharps waste containers also need to be stored before the disposal can occur. Most hospitals hire the services of licensed waste removal companies who deal with transporting the waste to an off-site location where the waste is usually destroyed with an incinerator.
However, until that can take place, hospitals need to make sure that sharps waste is not only stored in appropriate containers, but also well-separated from any highly-populated area, especially from cafeterias, or any place where food and drinks are consumed.
The most important thing to remember is this: until sharps waste is stored at hospitals, and is left untreated, it still represents a risk of infection. Act accordingly, follow safety protocols, and make sure staff wear the right protective equipment.
Sharps waste disposal at hospitals: off-site and on-site treatment methods
Hospitals can handle sharps waste disposal with two major methods: off-site and on-site disposal solutions.
Off-site sharps waste disposal is the “traditional” method. It requires the services of a waste removal company who will handle the transportation of sharps waste off-site. The medical waste is then dropped off at landfills, and destroyed with incinerators.
However, on-site methods like Celitron’s medical sharps waste disposal solution can make the process much easier. Compared to incineration, autoclaving and shredding can be just as effective, but also more practical and environmentally friendly. The biggest benefit is that since sharps waste will already be sterile at the site of the hospital, it won’t present a risk of infection anymore.