If your healthcare facility is generating medical waste and administering healthcare services, you have a duty to ensure your staff is properly trained. For employees who generate, handle, and dispose of medical waste, it’s crucial that they have all the knowledge, tools and training to protect themselves and their patients from exposure to potentially hazardous materials.
Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have outlined how facilities should conduct their training programs, to ensure staff, patients, and the entire community at large are kept safe.
If your facility creates, stores, transports, or disposes of medical waste, you are expected to follow all federal EPA training requirements. In addition, you may have state laws that apply.
So how often does your traff require medical waste and compliance training? Well, that’s depends on the type of medical waste they’re handling and the task at hand.
TRANSPORTATION OF WASTE
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is the federal agency who is the most concerned with how potentially hazardous materials are transported. Currently, US regulations require that all employees who generate or offer medical waste for transport receive initial training, plus regular training once every 3 years. This requirement also extends to anyone who signs a waste manifest or performs any related work function that falls under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).
This is an important category, because the OSHA states that it’s the most commonly broken compliance rule. Unfortunately, citations for the bloodborne pathogens (BBP) standard are the ones passed out the most within the healthcare industry. Any employee who has the potential to be exposed to bodily fluids or blood is required to receive annual training for bloodborne pathogens.
On their website, the OSHA describes their BBP Standards:
“OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard prescribes safeguards to protect workers against the health hazards caused by bloodborne pathogens. Its requirements address items such as exposure control plans, universal precautions, engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment, housekeeping, laboratories, hepatitis B vaccination, post-exposure follow-up, hazard communication and training, and recordkeeping. The standard places requirements on employers whose workers can be reasonably anticipated to contact blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), such as unfixed human tissues and certain body fluids.”
These safety measures are in place to protect the workers, the patients, and the entire community. If employees aren’t receiving this annual training, it puts everyone at risk.
OSHA COMPLIANCE TRAINING
This training is mandatory for all employees who have the potential to manage, handle, create, or come into contact with medical waste.
OSHA compliance training should at minimum include:
- Safety Data Sheets
- Safety Plan Builders & Audits
- Training on: BBP, Hazcom, HIPAA, DOT, Fire Safety, and Electrical Safety.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act is legislation that provides data security and safeguard provisions for protecting personal information. Any employee who comes into contact with protected health data must receive training to ensure compliance. Personal and private information can be found in countless place within a medical practice, so this rule extends to nearly every employee. Even your IV bags have your name on them!
Staying compliant with your training requirements isn’t easy, but knowing the expectations is half the battle. With the right medical waste compliance training company, you can ensure your practice is covered.