OSHA requires that solid RMW be placed in containers that are closable, constructed to contain all contents, and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport, or shipping (Figure 10).4 They must be labeled with the universal biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARD,” and/or color-coded red.4 The containers must be lined with biohazard bags made of LLD or Hi-D polyethylene resins of sufficient strength to prevent rupture or leaks.
Biohazard bags used to collect RMW within a facility must be certified by the manufacturer to meet the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) ASTM D1709 Impact Resistance Of Polyethylene Film By The Free-Falling Dart Method. Some states specify exact bursting strength, minimum thickness, or durability.7,22 The bags must also be labeled with the universal biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARD,” and/or color-coded red.
The OMWM should select a container off sufficient size to accommodate the RMW generated at each workstation.9,10 The smaller the container chosen, the less likely that non-RMW will be thrown into it. Autoclavable biohazard bags are available and some feature an indicator that changes to read “AUTOCLAVED” during steam sterilization (Figure 11). RMW that has been decontaminated is considered office waste and does not need to be labeled or color-coding.4
It is recommended to place a larger, general office waste container beside the regulated waste container. If non-regulated medical waste is accidently placed in a biohazard bag, it must be left there. If RMW is accidently placed in a non-regulated waste container, the regular office waste bag must be managed as RMW, the non-regulated solid waste must be placed into a biohazard bag while wearing appropriate PPE.