An Overview of Infectious Waste
Understanding how to properly handle and dispose of infectious waste is crucial to the well-being of the staff and work performed in any microbiology laboratory. Waste which requires special disposal protocol within a microbiology laboratory includes specimens, cultures, wastes that have come into contact with pathogenic organisms, disposable materials used in tests, glass slides, and materials from spill clean-ups.
Each microbiology laboratory should have designated infectious waste bins, boxes, or bags that are clearly marked with the biohazard symbol. Boxes or bags must weigh less than 50 pounds to be accepted by a contract disposal company. Infectious waste must not be discarded as general waste or into sink drains, because this increases the risk of infecting others with the biohazardous substances.
It is important to ensure that all employees in the workplace can safety perform their regularly assigned duties without being exposed to potential health risks. This includes exposure to bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and HBV, especially when working in a medical environment or any place that utilizes needles or sharp objects. It is also the employers’ responsibility to evaluate all engineering controls in order to reduce or eliminate exposure risks while tests and other tasks are being performed.
When it comes to exposure control, there should be a variety of policies and practices in place to prevent exposure to infectious materials in the workplace. By utilizing administrative controls such as an exposure control plan (ECP), individual laboratory risk assessments, universal (standard) precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE), and engineering controls, an employer can help reduce the risk of infection both in and out of the workplace.
When working in a microbiology laboratory, improper disposal of infectious waste could lead to a potential laboratory-acquired infection (LAI). Ensuring that your team knows how to properly handle all biohazardous materials and equipment in the lab is an essential part of workplace training. Our Control of Biohazards course provides in depth information on this topic and many more important biohazard-related training topics. For more information about our biosafety training course, call us at (410) 961-6638.