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OSHA Compliance

Medical Waste Disposal Regulations

Summary of Federal Requirements

On the Federal level, the storage and management of medical waste is primarily regulated by OSHA. The OSHA regulations only apply to human blood, human infectious wastes, and human pathological wastes.

Under OSHA:

  • Contaminated reusable sharps must be placed in containers that are: puncture resistant; labeled or color coded; and leakproof on the sides and bottom,
  • Reusable sharps that are contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials must not be stored or processed in a manner that requires employees to reach by hand into the containers,
  • Specimens of blood or other potentially infectious material are required to be placed in a container that is labeled and color coded and closed prior to being stored, transported or shipped,
  • Contaminated sharps must be placed in containers that are: closeable, puncture resistant, leakproof on sides and bottoms, and labeled or color coded,
  • Regulated wastes (liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials, contaminated items that would release blood or other potentially infectious materials in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed;
  • Items that are caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials and are capable of releasing these materials during handling, contaminated sharps, and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or other potentially infectious materials) must be placed in containers that are: closeable, constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids, labeled or color coded, closed prior to removal,
  • All bins, pails, cans, and similar receptacles intended for reuse, that have the likelihood of becoming contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials are required to be inspected and decontaminated on a regularly scheduled basis,
  • Labels affixed to containers of regulated wastes, refrigerators and freezers containing blood or other potentially infectious materials, and other containers used to store, transport, or ship blood or other potentially infectious materials must: include the biohazard symbol, be fluorescent orange or orange-red or predominantly so, with lettering and symbols in contrasting color; and affixed as closely as possible to the container by adhesive or wire to prevent loss or removal.