The Importance of Proper Medical Waste Disposal

Updated on August 23, 2022
The Importance of Proper Medical Waste Disposal

Whether you operate a dental clinic, vet office, or general medical practice, your job entails working with some sensitive items. A majority of the things you come across at work possess hazards that threaten the safety of your workers and others, from sharps to disease spreaders. Most of the tools and substances you encounter at your workplace vastly differ from the norm in other worksites, requiring special protocols for handling and disposal. Here is why proper medical waste disposal is important.

Common Types of Medical Waste

Medical waste comes in varying forms, with different risks and disposal methods. Common, regulated medical waste in vet offices can differ from the waste produced at a dental office. Across all types of medical practices, some of the most common types of medical waste include:

  • Sharps (needles and scalpels)
  • Expired or unused medication
  • Germ carriers (dead carcasses, rags, etc.)
  • Body parts
  • Blood samples

The Dangers of Improper Disposal

As a form of hazardous waste, improper medical waste disposal creates numerous potential health and safety breaches in and out of the clinic. Regular trash ends up in landfills, exposed to the environment, animals, and other people. Sending toxic excess through regular waste disposal puts people, animals, and the planet at risk.

People can misuse medication they find in garbage bins. Animals can choke on or injure themselves with sharps lying around in a landfill. And disease-ridden items left out in the open can spread diseases and infect others. Proper disposal ensures toxic and harmful items stay out of reach and contained to prevent further potential hazards.

How To Properly Dispose of Medical Waste

Different types of waste require varying forms of proper removal. On top of the type of hazard the waste possesses, numerous other factors also contribute to the best form of disposal for certain medical waste. Other factors include size, spreadability, and handling practices.

As the overseers of workplace health and safety, OSHA establishes the best practices for appropriate waste management. Compliance with OSHA hazardous waste protocols provides you with the best solutions to handling various types of regulated medical waste. In general, proper disposal includes separate trash zones, containment, and removal via other means of eradication like incinerating and flushing.

Proper medical waste disposal holds a lot of importance in ensuring the health and safety of your staff, patients, and others. It also helps keep the planet safe. On top of maximizing health and safety, understanding and enforcing proper waste removal optimizes your practice, reducing dangers and allowing your team to work with minimal mishaps.