Clinical Waste Equipment
As you might expect, there is a wide range of clinical waste equipment that can be used in our hospitals, GP clinics, dental rooms and other healthcare environments. Most of these are colour coded according to the type of waste they hold and are usually more secure and lockable compared to ordinary, everyday bins for waste collection.
Compliance for clinical waste disposal dictates that both producers of waste and contractors need to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of waste before it gets to the point where it is incinerated.
For all categories of sharps waste including needles and scalpels, bins need to be impact and puncture resistant and are a secure way of storing this kind of medical waste until collection for disposal.
Used for dealing with pharmaceuticals, these basically make harmful or out of date drugs unusable and irretrievable until they can be sent to incineration. Management of drugs by medical facilities is covered under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001 and not having drugs lying around in a state where they can cause harm is a primary concern for all medical practices.
Once drugs have been denatured, they can be placed in a blue lidded, hermetically sealed pharmaceutical bin ready for incineration.
These are used for a variety of situations in the medical environment where a spillage occurs. They can be specialised for different problems including cytotoxic drug spills, biohazards such as blood, and bodily fluid spills including urine and vomit. They normally use special granules that can soak up the spill so it can be transferred to waste safely.
Rigid Airtight Containers/Clinical Waste Bins
These are used for disposing of a wide range of clinical waste and can be hermetically sealed which means you can’t open them afterwards. This also ensures odours and seepages are eliminated. The bins come in a range of different sizes and can be colour coded according to the type of waste. There are also rigid cardboard containers nowadays that are being used and have a tough polyethylene lining making them suitable for a range of hazardous clinical waste while also being easier to transport and process.
Colour Coding for Clinical Waste Containers
One important part of disposing of clinical waste is the colour coding mechanism that is in place for particular categories of waste. The general ones used in the UK are:
- Purple: These containers are used for waste that is either made up of or contaminated by cytotoxic or cytostatic products, usually drugs or chemicals that can be damaging to human cells. These can include blister packs, pharmaceuticals and gloves, aprons and wipes that have been contaminated. These all require incineration.
- Red: Anatomical waste includes body parts and blood bags which also require incineration.
- Yellow: Anything that has been contaminated with highly infectious waste is marked as yellow and has to be incinerated. This can include equipment from gloves and swabs to aprons and couch rolls that have been stained with waste.
- Blue: Non-hazardous medical materials such as out of date medicines, inhaler cartridges and pipettes which need to be incinerated go in the blue containers.
- Orange: This is for hazardous and non-hazardous infectious waste which can either be treated prior to disposal or incinerated straight away.
- White: This is used for dental waste such as amalgam, old fillings and grindings that may be found in a practice and which are usually disposed of by recovery or recycling.
- Yellow and Black: Non-hazardous but offensive waste that can either be recycled, incinerated or sent to landfill. This includes things like colostomy bags and nappies.
- Black: This is used to designate municipal waste such as packaging and general waste that can be recycled or sent to landfill as you would in any normal office or business.
Many of the containers used for collecting clinical waste utilise antimicrobial surfaces that in some circumstances can kill over 99.9% of bacteria. The onus is on medical practices and others that produce defined clinical waste to use the right containers and appropriate disposal methods and train their staff to use them properly.
Most clinical waste disposal services provide guidance and usually include relevant bins and equipment needed to ensure safe management.