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Medical Waste Service Agreements

When communicating with customers about medical waste services, one of the first questions that is always asked is “What is disposal service going to cost?”.  This is obviously an important consideration of any purchase decision and the answer depends on different factors which involve the frequency of service, volume of wastes disposed of, and the specific materials that will be offered for treatment and disposal.

Once these details have been determined, they are documented in a service agreement which, beyond being part of good business practice, offers a number of benefits for all involved with the management of regulated medical wastes.  Specific to our customers’ interests, service agreements offer the following benefits:

  • Clarification and documentation of roles and responsibilities
  • Ability to lock in pricing over agreement term
  • Ability to lock in offered incentives
  • Protection of liabilities for involved parties

Executing a service agreement with your provider not only clearly defines the scope of services offered, but also outlines responsibilities of each party. It protects you legally while also identifying the type of liabilities and insurance protection you’ll have in case an accident should ever occur.  Remember, as a generator of hazardous wastes, your practice shares joint and serval responsibilities with your chosen provider.  Thus, it is important for you to have some terms and conditions which clearly communicate responsibilities.

Of additional importance, a service agreement protects the pricing you have been offered.   For agreements that have a longer term, you have the ability to establish a price that can be accounted for in future budgets while eliminating any surprise increases.

In addition to pricing, service agreements with Envirolaska outline several important items:

  • Date when the agreement was created
  • Location of where the material will be collected and any special service details (collection frequency, contact, available service days, utilized waste containment, etc.)
  • Payment terms and conditions and length of the contract
  • Regulatory compliance and clarification of associated responsibilities
  • Customer warranties
  • Explanation of how services can be terminated

It’s good business to communicate roles and responsibilities on paper with any utilized service for your own protection. This certainly extends to roles and responsibilities involving the management of regulated medical wastes generated at your practice.  A service agreement, signed by both parties, helps to ensure that liabilities are minimized and that your service will be executed as outlined.

For more information on how Envirolaska can help minimize both your liabilities and medical wastes disposal costs, contact us today for a no-obligation service quote!

Common Medical Waste Management Mistakes

Common Medical Waste Management Mistakes

The proper management of medical waste can be a complicated process, but an extremely necessary one for any facility generating these regulated materials.  Not only can the improper handling and disposal of medical waste expose patients, healthcare providers, the public, and medical waste service providers to hazardous materials, but it can also result in serious legal consequences which are not limited to fines.  As a result, you should expect your service provider to offer you the knowledge, tools, and support needed to remain compliant with the numerous federal, state, and local regulations in order to prevent common medical waste management mistakes.

By working with a provider who is both knowledgeable about applicable regulations and committed to their implementation, your practice is better positioned to ensure that wastes are managed in a safe manner which protects public health.  In this respect, the proper management of medical wastes and your relationship with your medical waste service provider can be seen as a key component of the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.”

Here are five common medical waste management areas to focus on to ensure proper management and compliance within your healthcare facility:

1. Ensure Your Staff Maintains Required Training

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), their most frequently issued citations within the healthcare industry (second for all US industry classifications) involves infractions of the Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) Standard. OSHA’s second most common healthcare citation involves violations of Hazcom requirements. All employees with potential exposure to blood or bodily fluids are required to train on BBP annually per federal OSHA regulation. Similarly, OSHA requires employers to maintain, and update annually, Exposure Control and Fire Prevention Plans along with a specific Hazard Communication Program. OSHA has the ability to issue fines up to $12,600 for each workplace hazard per instance which includes training and safety plan requirements among all other regulations contained in 29 CFR 1910.1030. Learn more about your BBP requirements at www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/.

Current U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations require initial and recurrent training of all employees who perform work functions covered by the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), which includes Regulated Medical Wastes. Any employee whose work directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety, specifically individuals who generate and offer waste for transport or sign waste manifests, is required to complete training per federal law. Failure to meet training requirements can result in fines of $471 per instance, per day. DOT fines related to individual HMR infractions defined in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) can be up to $78,376. Learn more about your specific responsibilities as a hazardous waste generator along with the regulations applicable to your practice and your staff at www.phmsa.dot.gov.

Envirolaska can provide all of your required OSHA, DOT, and HIPAA training, safety plans, and more to help your practice get in compliance and stay in compliance.  Learn more about our Healthcare Compliance Training solutions.

2. Utilize Appropriate Containers for the Collection, Storage, and Transportation of Medical Wastes

Using the correct containers for specific types of medical waste during on-site handling and transportation is crucial, particularly with sharps, as needles and other sharps can puncture or tear through red biohazard liner bags. Sharps must be disposed in appropriate rigid containers before placing those containers inside appropriate biohazard bags or bins.  In addition, sharps containers go through a specific approval program with the FDA before they are authorized for use in the market.

All containers utilized for the transportation of medical wastes (sharps and general biomedical wastes) also need to be approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and sealed per restrictions on weight prior to transportation.  As part of this process, containers are rigorously tested to certain performance standards and marked accordingly per regulation.

While medical waste containers are generally provided by service providers, medical waste packaging and labeling is the responsibility of the facility itself. Packaging includes sharps containers, biohazard containers, plastic bags, and reusable containers. Failure to comply with safe containment is an environmental and community health issue.  Consequently, it is important to identify and work with a service provider that maintains both a strong understanding of and commitment to compliance as they work to support your practice’s own efforts in this area.

Contact Envirolaska with any questions you may have on medical waste containment to make sure your practice remains in compliance.

3. Provide the Appropriate Manifest Documentation

All medical waste must be properly accounted for when it leaves a your facility and this is accomplished through the use of shipping manifests. These manifests, mandated by federal law and outlined in CFR, document offered wastes and tracks these materials as they are transported to an appropriate off-site waste management facility.  Manifests must also follow certain requirements in terms of format and execution as defined by federal law.  In addition, federal DOT regulations require that staff signing a manifest for a waste pickup have training in DOT protocols among other requirements.

Contact Envirolaska with any questions you may have on required waste manifests to make sure your practice remains in compliance.

4. Utilize Conforming Signage

Regulated medical waste requires special handling, disposal, and storage. Both OSHA and DOT have requirements that must be met in order to properly store and dispose of waste while displaying signage that properly communicates hazards. Failure to post conforming signage about restricted areas, medical waste containers, or maintain infection control plans at your facility can put staff, patients, and other individuals who come into contact with generated wastes at risk.

Contact Envirolaska with any questions you may have on required signage to make sure your practice remains in compliance.

5. Work with Committed Medical Waste Management Partners

Many of the most common medical waste management mistakes can be resolved by working with a qualified medical waste management company that fully understands the process and follows required and best practices.  There are no shortcuts in this process and responsible companies will do whatever is necessary to ensure that your waste management activities comply with all appropriate regulations while reducing your liabilities.  Essentially, this regulatory management is one of the largest cost drivers of medical waste service activity and should be an important expectation you have of your chosen provider.  After all, this is one of the primary elements of the service which you are paying for.

Contact Envirolaska with any questions you may have on medical waste management activities to make sure your practice remains in compliance.

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Medical Waste Mail Back Systems

If your facility generates a small volume of clinical waste or is located in rural Alaska, you might find that best disposal solution for these materials involves your mailbox.  Consider the use of USPS-authorized medical waste mail back systems as a cost effective, compliant, and efficient disposal option for wastes generated at your practice.  Through these mail back systems, generators have access to a range of fully compliant solutions which are flexible enough to meet a variety of operational requirements.

In this post, we have included information on the types of clinical wastes that can be disposed of through these mail back solutions, how to utilize a medical waste mail back system, along with relevant regulations governing their use.

 

What Types of Clinical Wastes Can be Disposed Through Mail Back Systems?

Medical waste return mail disposal systems can be utilized for a variety of clinical wastes.  As with regular collection services, wastes must be segregated for disposal in mail back solutions, but may be used for:

  • Sharps Waste: Materials include needles, ampules, broken glass, blades, razors, stables, trocars, guide wires, disposable surgical instruments, or any other item that has the potential of puncturing skin.
  • Biomedical (Red Bag) Wastes: Materials include potentially infectious materials, blood products, contaminated personal protective equipment and bandages, IV tubing, and cultures.
  • Pharmaceutical Waste: This primarily includes wastes which are a chemical waste product, vaccine, or allergenic that does not contain a radioactive component intended for use in the diagnosis, care, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease or injury in humans or animals. Certain listed or controlled substances require additional disclosures and management procedures for return mail disposal. 
  • Amalgam Waste: Amalgam waste is generated through dental activity and contains roughly 50% mercury.  Amalgam is used for fillings and can be generated during application or with extracted teeth.  Amalgam waste is classified as “Universal Waste” due to the mercury content inherent in this waste stream and while not classified as a hazardous waste, should NOT be disposed via the sanitary sewer or with your general medical wastes due to the presence of mercury.

With proper disclosure to and approval from your service provider, mail back disposal systems can also be used for:

  • Pathological Waste: Pathological waste includes human and animal tissues. These wastes must be segregated by the generator and are commonly incinerated for proper treatment.
  • Trace Chemotherapy Waste: Materials utilized for chemotherapy treatments which may contain some small residual material from this activity.  Materials include empty vials, empty syringes, empty IVs, contaminated gowns, gloves, tubing, aprons, wipes, and packaging.  These wastes must be segregated by the generator and then incinerated for proper treatment.

 

Using Medical Waste Mail Back Disposal Systems

Infectious waste and needles must be strictly and lawfully separated from your standard trash. Infectious waste cannot simply be tossed into the garbage, nor can sharps be discarded in any particular container, as you risk needles poking through.

Instead, the law requires the use of certified rigid, puncture resistant containers to store and dispose of infectious waste. This ensures proper awareness and safety of anyone who handles it.

Medical waste mail back solutions involve specialized packaging components which meet regulatory requirements set by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the United States Postal Service (USPS).  While Envirolaska’s mail back systems are designed for use through the USPS, some systems are designed for other carriers, most commonly the United Parcel Service (UPS).  UPS has their own set of requirements which are different from those issued by USPS, but represent an alternative that is available in some markets.

In regards to container design, the law requires medical waste mail back solutions utilize certified primary waste containers which are rigid, puncture resistant, and sealed to prevent potential exposure in the event of a transportation accident.  Systems available through Envirolaska come in a range of sizes and from 1.2 gallons to 28 gallons to meet varying operational requirements.

To meet requirements, mail back kits include the following:

  • Instruction sheet for proper use
  • Primary collection container for medical wastes
  • Heavy interior plastic liner bag (if container does not have sufficient seal on primary container)
  • Heavy exterior plastic liner bag to enclose primary collection container
  • Zip ties to secure liner bags
  • Interior fiberboard enclosure
  • Exterior fiberboard shipping box
  • Packaging tape to seal system prior to shipment
  • Shipping manifest to document proper treatment and disposal
  • Prepaid return shipping label

To use a mail back disposal system, the first step is to place an order which will include the cost of the system itself and all associated outbound and return shipping.  Systems are then individually packaged, mailed to your location, and ultimately received at your facility for the collection of medical wastes.  Once the primary waste container is full, users simply follow the included instruction sheet for proper packaging, complete the included shipping manifest, and provide the sealed package to USPS for return shipping and processing.  Of note, system users must save the original shipping box that systems are received in.  This same box is used to return full systems for processing.

With Envirolaska’s systems, electronic notifications are sent to system users throughout this process to provide documentation of outbound shipping, return shipping, and the ultimate treatment of wastes.

 

Mail Back Medical Waste System Requirements for Lawful Disposal

Because of the potential pathogens inherent within the medical waste stream, certified containment systems are a legal requirement of the transportation process.  Containers must be rigid and impenetrable, but also meet a series of design requirements.  If you cannot locate a USPS authorization number on the exterior packaging of your system, the system has not met these design requirements is not legally compliant with regulations.

Ultimately, the shippers of medical waste bear the legal and financial liabilities associated with the use of non-authorized solutions transported through US mail per federal code established by the USPS and DOT Hazardous Material Regulation.  Authorized systems are specifically designed and extensively tested to ensure safety for all who may come in contact with wastes and minimize the potential of exposure during an accident.  Use of the US postal system to mail medical waste with non-authorized packaging represents violations of Title 39 U.S.C., Section 3018 and Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1716 (Injurious Articles as Nonmailable).  In this occurrence, full responsibility rests with the shipper from placing any nonmailable items into US postal system per US code.  Again, shippers bear full liability for violations which can result in substantial fines and even jail time if the shipments result in injuries to other individuals who come in contact with nonmailable items.

Among others requirements, any USPS-authorized return mail system meets the following:

Systems are extensively tested to ensure structural integrity. The USPS requires that a series of tests be completed by a certified testing lab as part of their authorization review process. Required testing is completed to confirm that systems are capable of withstanding the elements, that systems are leakproof, and able to withstand a variety of potential impacts that could be experienced during transportation.  Specifically, tests include humidity testing, temperature testing, vibration testing, leakproof testing, and 30 foot drop testing under a variety of different environmental conditions.  If a packaging system fails any test (materials leak from the system), it will not be authorized for use.

Systems have multiple containment barriers to ensure protection.  To manage exposure potential, medical waste mail back systems consist of multiple nested barriers to seal wastes within packaging. The primary waste collection container will be rigid, impermeable, and also supplied with absorbent material.  Secondly, the primary container is itself sealed within a heavy weight plastic liner.  These components are then packaged inside of two nested fiberboard boxes as an additional protective measure.  This level of design, which will be part of any USPS-authorized system, assures that wastes are contained event of a transportation accident.

Systems require special markings and use of USPS specific programs.  In additional to structural requirements, medical waste mail back systems must also meet additional USPS requirements which are specific to their systems. These include specific hazard markings, manifest requirements, and the utilization of USPS’ return mail shipping programs.  This is why you will not find any USPS-authorized system sold without pre-paid return shipping included.

As described in this post, the development of USPS-authorized return mail solutions is not a casual process.  By using USPS-authorized solutions, medical waste generators are able to ensure that their wastes are properly contained for transportation, liabilities are minimized, and wastes are managed through full compliance in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Contact Envirolaska for further information on medical waste mail back systems or purchase systems through our online store.

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Medical Waste Pathogens

In 1991, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard to protect workers from the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/Aids) and the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).  While protection from these specific viruses is of great importance, these two examples represent a portion of the many pathogenic materials that potentially exist in this regulated waste stream.  As a result, all medical wastes should be managed in a manner that offers the greatest protection possible to protect both the individuals and the environment which may come into contact with medical waste pathogens.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), key facts regarding the worldwide generation of medical waste include:

  • Of the total amount of waste generated by health-care activities, about 85% is general, non-hazardous waste (i.e. non-regulated refuse).
  • The remaining 15% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic, or radioactive.
  • Every year an estimated 16 billion injections are administered worldwide.
  • Health-care waste contains potentially harmful microorganisms, which can infect hospital patients, health workers, and the general public if not properly managed.
  • Health-care waste in some circumstances is incinerated, and dioxins, furans, and other toxic air pollutants may be produced as emissions.

With these facts in mind, medical waste generators retain important responsibilities to ensure that all pathogens which may be generated through healthcare activity be properly managed.  Among those previously mentioned, medical waste pathogens that can be found in generated medical wastes include:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/Aids)
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C
  • Influenza
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Arboviral Pathogens
  • Brucellosis
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Pathogens
  • Leptospirosis
  • Candidiasis
  • Malaria
  • Rabies
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • Tularemia
  • Lassa and Marburg Pathogens
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Pathogens

Exposure to these particular pathogens presents risks which, if not properly managed at the point of generation and though waste management activity completed by your medical waste disposal provider, can result in some of the following impacts:

 

Parasitic Infections

Parasites can be both hardy and prevalent in the medical waste stream, particularly from wastes generated at laboratories or other locations which routinely test for infectious microorganisms.

Bacteremia

Bacteremia infections occurs when bacteria are introduced to the bloodstream.  These types of infections are most commonly related to sharps waste.  This is one of the main reasons why all sharps are to be placed in puncture resistant containers.

Vaccine Contamination

While vaccines protect us from a multitude of diseases, several consist of actual pathogens designed to stimulate the immunize system to naturally produce resistance to certain microorganisms.  If improperly managed, potential exists for individuals to develop infections through exposure to vaccines discarded with medical wastes.

Lung Infections

Improperly stored and/or sealed medical waste can release airborne pathogens that can cause certain lung infections such as tuberculosis.

Meningitis

Medical waste may contain pathogens that can transmit meningitis which is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Medical wastes can commonly include items used with patient care that have been exposed to sexually transmissible pathogens such as herpes, human papilloma virus, and syphilis among others.

Fevers

Ebola and Marburg disease are two examples of pathogens which cause violent fevers and internal hemorrhaging.  While these diseases have a low prevalence in North America, Alaska’s tourism industry has the potential impact of bringing some of these specific pathogens into our medical waste stream.

To ensure that your practice is managing the risks associated with medical waste pathogens with confidence, be sure to work with a service provider you trust and one that maintains a commitment to safety.  Contact Envirolaska today to learn more about how we can support medical waste disposal best practices at your office.

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Medical Waste Reduction at Your Practice

It seems counter intuitive, but has your medical waste service provider ever made efforts to help you with medical waste reduction at your practice?  Chances are your current provider hasn’t and that is largely because the more waste you generate, the more your current provider is able to charge.

Many practices increase their medical waste disposal costs unnecessarily simply by adding materials that are non-infectious such as food, paper, and other non-hazardous materials into their medical waste bins.  In actuality, the ability to achieve medical waste reduction at your practice has more to do with proper segregation than it does with eliminating total volumes of wastes produced.  This is important due to fact that the treatment of regulated medical wastes is considerably more expensive to dispose and carriers a much higher level of liability by comparison to general non-regulated solid wastes.

At Envirolaska, we operate differently through our efforts to help our customers minimize both their costs (segregation) and their impact on the environment (technology utilized).  Through this partnership approach, we work to build long term relationships by helping our customers reduce the volumes of non-hazardous wastes included in their medical waste stream.

In addition to providing guidance on the materials that should and should not be included in your medical waste container for treatment, Envirolaska is able to support customers through tailored medical waste audits that are specific to your practice.

The process is relatively straight forward and involves the following activity:

  • Step 1: Your medical waste stream is audited to estimate a percentage of your current waste is actually non-hazardous waste. Then we quantify your potential savings through a medical waste reduction analysis.
  • Step 2: We educate your staff on proper medical waste disposal, so that everyone has the knowledge needed to reduce your medical waste.
  • Step 3: We implement an action plan that includes written policies, effective signage, and proper container placement.

Keep in mind that every practice is unique based on their specific health care activities and the different wastes that they may be generating from them.  It is in each practice’s interest to follow good segregation activities to help minimize medical waste volumes.  Medical waste reduction is possible even while maintaining the highest levels of safety and compliance.

Take the first step with medical waste reduction at your practice and schedule your free medical waste audit by contacting Envirolaska today.

choose local

Why Choose a Locally Owned Business?

Now, more than ever, the support of Alaskan owned and operated businesses has the opportunity to provide mitigating impacts on the current softening of our state’s economy.  If you need to purchase a product or service and are faced with the option of buying from a locally owned business or from a large, national firm, here is some data you may want to consider (Source: Civic Economics):

  • For every $100 spent with a local vendor, 73% stays within the local community.  For the same amount spent with a national company, only 43% stays remains in the local economy.
  • When you buy from local companies, your money stays local because local business owners are much more likely to spend their money where they live.
  • Local business owners do everything they can to stay local while national companies often abandon their buildings and our communities when presented with more favorable economics.
  • A locally-owned business loses three jobs for every two new jobs that a national company creates in our community.

When it comes to medical waste disposal services you now have a choice between nationally-owned companies and an Alaskan owned and operated company like Envirolaska.  We are here for the long haul and working to help realize improvements in public health statewide through the delivery of our services.

While we operate with much smaller resources by comparison to nationally owned providers, we take pride in our ability to deliver greater value to our Alaskan customer base by comparison to these options. Here’s how we stack up against the national medical waste disposal competitors operating in the Alaska market:

  • Lower Cost.  Reduce your disposal costs by 15-30% and gain access to a variety of customer incentives.
  • Flat Rate Pricing.  Simple, per-collection pricing model with fixed rates and no additional add on service charges.
  • Exceptional Service. Flexible collection schedules, online manifest tracking and bill pay, clean-cut certified collection technicians, and commitment to our customers.
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed. If you are not 100% satisfied with our service, let us know and we will make it right.
  • Commitment to Safety. We exceed all regulatory requirements and support our customers through complementary waste audits, management plans, and more.
  • Sustainable Operations. Shrink your facility’s environmental footprint through our green technologies.
  • Compliance Training.  Access a world class compliance solution to help meet your OSHA, HIPAA, and DOT requirements.
  • Alaskan Owned and Operated.  Support Alaska’s economy through partnership with local enterprise.

Envirolaska would be honored to support your practice through our cost effective, compliant, and environmentally focused services.  Contact us today for a no-obligation service quote to get started with a locally owned provider.

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Medical Waste Disposal Best Practices

The medical waste industry is very complex and dynamic. With so many different types of medical waste, different rules and regulations from federal, state, and local entities, it can quickly become challenge managing all requirements.  Compounding this is the fact that improper management of this waste stream can result in meaningful impacts to both the environment and the generators of these materials. Some of these impacts could include contamination of groundwater, public endangerment, impacts to your practice’s reputation, and significant fines for the generator of medical waste.  Making sure to exercise proper disposal and to work with a service provider that shares your commitments to medical waste disposal best practices is a choice that reflects positively on the environment as well as the integrity of your company.

If your facility has medical waste, the law says it is up to the generator to determine how to best dispose of it.  Follow the best practices below to safely and efficiently dispose of your medical waste at your location.

  1. Complete a waste audit to determine what your practice is generating.

The first thing that should be fully considered is whether or not wastes generated at your practice are potentially infectious and, if so, how might they be further classified.  Infectious waste is classified as waste contaminated by things like blood, body fluids, or other potentially harmful materials that can infect and harm humans or the environment. Unlike infectious waste, non-infectious waste can be disposed of with solid waste.

You should also determine if you have pathological or pharmaceutical waste.  Pathological waste, includes things like carcasses, tissues, and body parts.  Pharmaceutical waste includes unused medications and contaminated packaging.  Knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step.   It is a critical component that supports all of the proceeding activities involving these materials including proper storage, identification, transportation, treatment, and disposal of these wastes.

As desired, Envirolaska is available to assist your practice in the evaluation of medical waste generation at your location.  Our goal with these exercises is to help ensure that wastes are not only properly managed, but minimized to the greatest extent possible to boost the delivered value of our services and support longer term relationships with our customers.

  1. Ensure that your practice is utilizing proper containers.

Medical waste containers have certain distinct requirements per OSHA and DOT regulations.  These requirements primarily specify labeling and the container’s design characteristics.  As an example, all sharps waste, such as needles, must be placed in puncture resistant OSHA approved containers to protect all involved as these wastes are transported and treated.  As another example, both OSHA and DOT maintain specific requirements for the proper labeling of medical waste which include requirements for how waste containers are marked.

To properly transport medical waste, all medical waste must be placed in approved containers as an initial step. These containers must communicate OSHA required labeling and certain information about the design characteristics of the packaging, universal markings, along with specific waste identifiers communicated in specific language.  Depending on the type of medical waste, the generator must also understand the requirements of identification and segregation of specific medical wastes (i.e. pathology waste, chemotherapy waste, infectious waste, etc.).  With any hazardous material, proper packaging is important and while your service provider may supply collection containers, it is ultimately the responsibility of the generator to ensure that they are compliant.  Any box or tub simply will not do and the use of non-compliant containers adds additional liability to your practice which you, as the generator of these wastes, remain responsible for.

Consider also the practice of having wastes transferred to secondary containers prior to removal from your practice.  When you execute a waste manifest, you are making a legal statement certifying that wastes have been packaged by yourself, are correct as indicated in the manifest, and are accepting of responsibility for these materials as a generator.  If you are currently serviced in this fashion, you have effectively been asked to make false statements with these declarations.  Due to the inherent liabilities associated with medical wastes, this is important to consider because of the unnecessary risk this activity can add to your practice.

It should be noted that best practice within the industry is to replace containers with each service.  Beyond the sanitation concerns of re-using existing containers which can be harbors for infectious pathogens, repackaging prior to transport presents a new level of liability that should be a consideration to your practice.

All of Envirolaska’s containers are OSHA and DOT approved for the collection and transportation of medical waste.

  1. Utilize transportation and destruction records that are clear, accurate, and able to be easily managed within your practice.

Proper documentation is an essential component of the medical waste disposal activity.  Each container of generated medical waste should have accompanying paperwork throughout the transportation and destruction process.  This documentation, which is noted in hazardous waste manifests, must also follow specific formats and contain specific information in order to meet federal requirements.

The hazardous waste manifest process is also important for both the generator and your service provider.  If this paperwork is inaccurate or missing, the liability rests with the generator of that waste, however, creates complications for all involved parties.  Thus, it is important that this documentation is accurate, accessible, and in conformance with regulations.

To improve the visibility of Alaska’s medical waste stream with our customers, Envirolaska utilizes a fully compliant electronic manifest system.  This process ensures compliance, reduces errors, and makes information more accessible to all involved parties.  In addition, the utilization of an electronic system also makes the record management process much more efficient so that our customers no longer have to sort and manage multiple paper based records.  All information is organized, presented clearly, and accessible 24/7 through our secure customer portal.  We are the only service provider in Alaska to offer such a service and we do so free of charge.

  1. Work with dedicated service providers who share your commitments to safety, compliance, and professionalism.

It is important to remember that medical waste remains the responsibility of the generator even after it has been taken off site and in the possession of your service provider.  Thus, it is very important to choose a reliable provider that demonstrates a commitment to safety, compliance, and professionalism. Not only should your provider clearly understand and follow all regulations regarding transport and disposal, but they should also be able to serve as a resource in helping your own practice understand and manage your requirements in an efficient manner.

Thus, choosing the right provider will make your facility’s entire medical waste disposal process smooth and easy.  Envirolaska provides all the right options to make this possible.  From our compliance training offerings to our collection and disposal services, we can make your medical waste disposal as simple and hassle-free as possible which helps you to keep your focus on quality patient care.

Contact Envirolaska today for a no-obligation service quote and savings analysis.

Biohazard UN 3291

The Biohazard Symbol

In 2016, the universal biohazard symbol that is used to visually communicate the presence of known and potentially infectious biological material celebrated its 50th birthday.  According to The New York Times, the universal biohazard symbol was developed by Charles L. Baldwin, an Environmental Health Engineer, of Dow Chemicals in 1966.  Still in use today and largely unchanged from its original design, the universal biohazard symbol is the primary identifier for all classifications of regulated medical wastes (RMW) which are generally and sometimes specifically referenced as biomedical wastes, biohazardous waste, regulated medical waste, other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), or through its formal United Nations classification as UN 3291.

In describing the process of developing the symbol, Mr. Baldwin remarked:

“‘We tested the sample symbols across the country — the marketing department had survey groups to test different labels for Dow products. There were half a dozen of our original symbols in this survey of 24 different symbols. The rest were recognizable, like the peanut man for Planter’s peanuts, the Texaco star, the Shell Oil symbol, the Red Cross and the swastika. They were asked to look at them and then asked to guess at what each one meant. The biohazard symbol got the fewest guesses. Then we went back one week later to the same set of people and the same set of symbols, plus 36 more common ones, and asked them which of these did they remember the best. And they picked out the biohazard symbol.”

Interestingly enough, the symbol is well suited for Alaska’s unique environment as he continued to describe the design process:

“The color was blaze orange, one of the colors chosen in Arctic exploration as being the most visible under the most conditions. It was three-sided because if it were on a box containing biohazardous material and the box was moved around, transported, it might wind up in different positions.”

After the symbol was originally published, it was immediately adopted by numerous agencies involved with this particular waste stream including US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

A technical diagram of the universal biohazard symbol from the NIH Laboratory Safety Monograph published in 1978 can be found below.

 

Universal Biohazard Symbol Diagram

Envirolaska Circle

Hello, Neighbor!

We are fortunate to live and work in one of the most spectacular places in world, Alaska.  Our remoteness, climate, and geography further support our state’s uniqueness while making the process of delivering quality health care in our communities quite remarkable.  At Envirolaska, we believe that we can make a difference in supporting the work of our state’s many providers through the delivery of compliant, cost effective, and environmentally focused medical waste disposal services.  Indeed, this is a significant part of our larger mission and the role we believe that we play in transforming waste into opportunity.

Though our services, products, and training offerings we hope to elevate the level of transparency involving Alaska’s medical wastes in efforts to reduce the volumes, impacts, and costs associated with managing potentially infectious materials.  We are working to accomplish this largely through the effective deployment of technology whether that be through our processing equipment, electronic management of transportation and destruction manifests, or through our world class compliance solutions which are accessible to all customers through any internet enabled devise.

We believe that we are supporting a new approach for medical waste management in Alaska and we feel privileged that you have taken the time to allow us to introduce our work to you.  We are committed to providing the highest level of service possible regarding medical waste disposal services while creating awareness of our activities, expanding our efforts to positively impact as many Alaskans as we can, while reducing the financial costs and environmental impacts associated with medical waste across our state.

As an Alaskan owned and operated small business, we desire to develop long term relationships with practitioners across Alaska’s health care industry.  We are neighbors to many of these professionals and we stake the reputation of both our business and ourselves as individuals on our ability to deliver on  commitments made to our customers.  We want to work with you to help realize a shared objective of delivering the best possible health care for all of Alaska.  Envirolaska believes that our role in this process is to provide exceptional service and value through all of our offerings so that our customers can keep their focus on quality patient care.

Envirolaska offers a full array of services for Alaska’s health care industry, providing medical waste collection and disposal, medical waste supplies, USPS-authorizes return mail systems, and compliance training.  Our offerings exceed all applicable federal, state, and local regulations for the management and disposal of medical wastes.

Our hope for this blog is that you will consider it a resource to help learn more about our work while also providing us an opportunity to better understand your work and how we can most effectively serve your needs.

Please stay in touch with us to learn more about medical waste in Alaska and how we can put our services to work for you!