Every building, organization and facility produces more than one type of waste, all of which must be disposed of properly. So, appropriate waste management procedures are developed to ensure that the facility can get rid of the waste for the organization to continue functioning properly. However, not all waste management options are created equal. You wouldn’t dump your septic tank into the local river or toss used hospital injection needles into a typical trashcan for several reasons, one of them being the risk of exposing those coming into contact with the river water or the bag containing the needles to infectious diseases. So, why would you put feminine sanitary waste which may contain bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis B into ordinary trashcans? There are many common misconceptions about the proper way to dispose of feminine sanitary waste, so we are going to give you the facts, straight and simple.
How do I know if I have a properly designed disposal bin?
The OSHA mandate on bloodborne pathogens states that sanitary waste must be discarded in a container meeting the following requirements:
- “Prevents leakage during collection, handling, processing, storage, transport, or shipping.” 1910.1030(d)(2)(xiii) *
- Allows for “all equipment and environmental and working surfaces” to be “cleaned and decontaminated after contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.” 1910.1030(d)(4)(ii) *
* Click here to read the entire OSHA Mandate 1910.1030.
When looking at common sanitary waste bins, any bodily fluids that are on the lid, handle or outside of the bin are potential hazards, but cannot be avoided due to the way these bins are operated and used. Each woman has to touch the lid to discard the waste and these bins can fill up quickly, forcing some of the waste to touch the inside or sides of the opening and, in extreme cases, sticking out the sides of the bin as well (if you are a woman, this is probably your least favorite part of any public restroom… those bins are disgusting). When the time comes for cleaning, many of these bins that are attached to the wall can only be thoroughly cleaned on 75% of their surfaces, leaving some surfaces untouched and potentially still contaminated.
Proper disposal bins should be completely contained, protecting the user from the disposed contents while still allowing for the disposal of additional sanitary waste. It is also recommended that these bins be unattached from any wall or surface to allow for complete cleaning and disinfecting.
What is the best way to actually remove the sanitary waste?
While sanitary waste is to be considered contaminated at all times, it is not considered a biohazard and should therefore not be discarded in red biohazard bags unless the waste is generated by patients in a medical facility. If your current sanitary disposal bin requires a bag liner, make sure you are using the proper liners (and those brown wax liners aren’t the best solution) by doing your research to see what is best for the bins you have. An even better option would be to find a sanitary disposal bin which is actually completely removed, reducing the risk of your cleaning staff being exposed to any bloodborne pathogens if they had to remove a liner.
How should the waste be disposed of once removed?
Some facilities managers believe that once the waste has been disposed of in their sanitary disposal bins that the waste can then be added in with the rest of the trash from the restroom to be disposed of. This is not a good idea – especially if the trash will not be taken out right away. The absolute best option is to have your sanitary waste removed separately from the restroom by OSHA-trained professionals to protect as many customers and members of your staff as possible.
If you’re on the hunt for a safer, better and more convenient method of sanitary disposal that capitalizes on the green initiative, make sure to check out Workplace Essentials’ Sanitary Disposal Service. This innovative unit is available in two touchless methods – foot pedal or infrared – for a user-friendly experience. When in use, a masking tray shields the user from the contents inside the unit, delivering an out-of-sight and out-of-mind mentality. Inside the unit, a blend of natural anti-microbial and odor control compounds combined with vapor-release technology neutralizes the waste. Known as the Eco-Card Sanitary Waste Neutralizer, this leading-edge natural technology emits a natural fragrance that is fresh and long lasting. The best part about the Sanitary Disposal Service is that it is backed by the Workplace Essentials maintenance service – at regularly scheduled intervals designed to meet your needs, OSHA-trained service personnel will come in and remove the used units while replacing them with fresh ones. The used units will be returned to a local Workplace Essentials service center where they will be emptied and recycled for re-use after being completely cleaned, sanitized and re-charged. All treated sanitary waste which has been rendered harmless is processed for disposal at their waste transfer facilities in accordance with all local and state regulations.