Healthcare waste is the solid or liquid waste arising from healthcare.
Healthcare waste is managed by segregating healthcare risk waste which is potentially infectious and hazardous from the bulk of waste which is domestic in nature.
All healthcare waste must be handled, stored, transported and disposed of with care and particular precautions are required with healthcare risk waste due to it’s hazardous properties.
Health and safety issues
- Healthcare waste must be correctly segregated and healthcare risk waste must be stored in the appropriate UN approved containers (bags or bins depending on the nature of the waste).
- Healthcare waste must stored in a secure area, appropriately signed, with access limited to staff.
- There must be arrangements in place to deal with spillages of waste.
- There must be supervision, training and information for employees on the correct procedures to be followed when handling healthcare waste.
- There must be an incident reporting and investigation procedure in place.
- The waste carrier removing and transporting the healthcare waste must have the appropriate waste collection licence/permit for the waste.
- Dispatch documentation for healthcare risk waste (including C1 forms and tagging records) must be completed correctly and records kept by the waste generator.
Health and safety considerations for healthcare workers handling waste
- Personal protective clothing must be worn when handling healthcare waste containers, appropriate to the risk.
- Employees handling infectious waste must be offered appropriate vaccinations (see the Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland).
- Waste containers must not be overfilled and must be closed securely. Healthcare risk waste containers must be labelled, tagged and securely sealed to prevent spillages.
- The principles of safe manual handling must be applied when handling waste containers.
- Waste bags are to be picked up by the neck and must not be thrown or dropped to avoid damaging the bag.
- Waste bins must be carried by the handle and not held tight to the body.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling waste.
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