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Colorado

Infectious
Medical Waste


Definition of Infectious Medical Waste
Management of Infectious Medical Waste
OSHA Regulations
Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines
Contacts

 


Definition of Infectious Waste

In Colorado, infectious waste is defined as any waste capable of producing an infectious disease in a susceptible person. Generally recognized infectious wastes include, but are not limited to: isolation wastes from persons having a disease requiring Biosafety Level IV containment; cultures and stocks of infectious agents and biologicals; human blood, blood products and other body fluids; human pathological or anatomical waste consisting of tissues and body parts; contaminated sharps; and contaminated research animals and bedding.

Managing Regulated Medical Waste

Management Plan. Healthcare facilities that generate infectious waste must develop and implement an on-site infectious waste management plan appropriate for their particular facility. This plan must be available to the hauler of the waste, to the disposal facility, and to the licensing or regulatory agency. The plan must include the designation of infectious waste, provisions for the handling of that waste, staff training, contingency planning for spills or loss of containment, the designation of a person responsible for implementation of the plan, and provisions for appropriate on and off-site treatment or final disposal.

Packaging and Labeling. Receptacles containing infectious waste must be clearly labeled with the biohazard symbol or with the words “Infectious Waste” in letters at least one inch high. Untreated waste must be stored, packaged, contained, and transported in a manner that prevents the release of the waste material and in a manner to prevent nuisance conditions. Contaminated sharps (needles, syringes, lancets) must be placed in a puncture resistant container and be properly designated as untreated infectious waste or made noninfectious by an appropriate treatment method. Untreated containers of sharps cannot be compacted.

Storage. There are no storage time limits for generators of infectious waste.  The waste need only be stored in a manner to prevent release of the waste and to prevent nuisance conditions.  

Off-Site Disposal in a Landfill. Properly labeled and packaged infectious waste may be disposed of in a permitted solid waste disposal facility without treatment. Landfills must be approved by their local governing authority and the state health department to accept this type of waste.  If untreated infectious waste is disposed of in a solid waste disposal facility, these procedures must be documented in the generator’s waste handling plan and must be acceptable to the waste hauler and disposal site. Recognizable human anatomical remains cannot be disposed of at a solid waste landfill. These must be either incinerated or interred.

Other Treatment/Disposal Options. Healthcare facilities may treat their infectious waste themselves to render it noninfectious or contract with a medical waste disposal company.  Infectious waste that has been appropriately treated to render it non-infectious is no longer considered infectious for handling and disposal purposes.  Treated waste can be disposed of with other noninfectious and nonhazardous solid wastes after the generator either identifies it as appropriately treated waste or provides the hauler and disposal facility with a written statement that its general waste includes appropriately treated infectious waste.  Appropriate treatment is any method that renders the waste noninfectious, and must include the following: documentation that the method is effective; a written standard operating procedure for implementation of the method; and regular monitoring to test the effectiveness of the treatment.  Widely used treatment methods include incineration, autoclaving, decontamination, and sterilization.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not approve or recommend specific treatment methods, but leaves it up to the generator to determine what is an appropriate and effective treatment method for their wastes.

OSHA Regulations

In addition to the state medical waste environmental regulations there are some Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules that apply to medical/infectious waste. Colorado is one of 26 states covered entirely by the federal OSHA program. This program is operated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA rules (Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standards) impact various aspects of medical/infectious waste, including management of sharps, requirements for containers that hold or store medical/infectious waste, labeling of medical/infectious waste bags/containers, and employee training. These requirements can be found in the HERC section entitled OSHA Standards for Regulated Waste.

Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines

Statements of Basis and Purpose and Specific Statutory Authority for 6 CCR 1007-2 Solid Waste Regulations.

Contacts

Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment--Hazardous Material and Waste Management Division

More Information

Information for health care facilities concerning medical waste.