When talking about the subject of biohazard waste, the 3 R’s are referring to the risks, rights, and responsibilities those in the industry must deal with on a daily basis. In order to maintain a safe working environment, there are standards put into place and enforced with laws and regulations by federally mandated agencies.
This is the system by way bio hazard remediation laws, guidelines, and best practices are achieved. It is a complex system, but let us break it down into the parts which make biohazard waste control safer for all national workers.
Biohazard Risks, Rights, and Regulations
Industry workers are trained for awareness of the dangerous environments that they are working around. These risk factors require specialized protective gear and equipment be utilized. So that all possible precaution is taken to ensure worker safety and avoid the spread of hazardous materials through contamination.
Still, some employees aren’t aware or consumers don’t know about the risks associated with crime scenes themselves. Just as individuals may be unaware of the risks inherent in their work, such persons are often ignorant about their rights as people or workers exposed to dangerous materials. As are business owners and companies held accountable to achieve best practices in their workplace environments, so can the mandated regulation protect companies that are in proper compliance.
Primary sources of risks come from bloodborne pathogens, bio-hazardous materials, regulated medical waste (RMW), and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Today there are state and federal laws in place to protect all businesses, workers, and the public from such very dangerous exposures. These laws become part of the greater federally sanctioned mandates and are enforced by a group of appointed regulation agencies.
Each of these agencies having a position to oversee and take action on particular parts of the regulatory legal process. These laws are in place and ensure that the public, employees, and employers are given fair representation when it comes to blood or biohazard risks, rights, and responsibilities.
When regulating risk exposure, protecting people, and enforcing bio hazard remediation laws, guidelines or best practices, there are a few key agencies in place to do so. Here is a listing of the biohazard regulation agencies and overseers that primarily are called on to assess the bio hazard remediation process in place today.
• OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
This agency oversees safety standards for employees and establishes rules that protect work environments. In biohazard related industries OSHA specifically protects workers coming into contact with biological fluids and blood. OSHA rules govern proper use of equipment and protective gear, this includes full body suits, boots, gloves, headgear and respiratory devices. This agency is responsible for safety training standards and all mandatory vaccinations.
• EPA(Environmental Protection Agency)
Both state and federal environmental agency regulations oversee blood disposal, but also how biological materials get handled so to avoid dangerous environmental impact. All dangerous materials are handled in accordance with the rules established by the EPA along with other federal department branches.
• DOE(Department of Energy)
This agency works with the EPA to regulate the potential negative impact of the national energy resources and overseeing regulations for energy production. Oil companies, nuclear power, and other energy resource industries are held to compliance standards by the DOE in conjunction with the assistance of the EPA.
• DOT(Department of Transportation)
This environmental agency further regulates the storage, generation, and transport of biomedical wastes. The DOT also maintains licenses for storage and transport for all bio-hazardous materials for nationally. DOT regulations are implemented in compliance with EPA standards. The DOT also works together with OSHA concerning labeling required to be in compliance with U.S. Postal Service labeling standards, but cannot contradict DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations. DOT labeling is required in addition to U.S. Post Office labeling for some transport containers known to contain infectious substances. This is not a requirement for all containers, some simply require the biohazard label that is standard. Where the OSHA and DOT required labeling overlaps, it is the DOT labeling that is considered standard and acceptable on the outer sides of transport containers. Whereas container transport of collections and receptacles inside of a work environment or other facility, these must be labeled with the OSHA standard labeling, because such containments are not covered under the DOT requirements.
• FMCSA(Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
This environmental agency is involved with the motorized transport of all hazardous materials, particularly as it relates to the safety of drivers of trucking and other transport vehicles. This is a federal overseer that assists the EPA to regulate and upgrade standards in terms of legal motor carrier administration guidelines.
• CDC(Centers for Disease Control)
The EPA and DOT work with the CDC because this agencies’ guidelines are primarily established for proper treatment of blood and biological materials. More specifically how to render such hazardous materials safer, or if possible harmless. CDC regulation rules were initially introduced for addressing hazardous spills in medical facilities, hospitals, and other treatment centers. These same regulations have been adopted and applied throughout various non-traditional settings outside of the medical industries. Remediation companies must use EPA rated chemicals as directed in order disinfect all pathogens, this primary guideline states that this must also be done on a hard, clean surface. This is an example of CDC influence on EPA standards for OSHA certified work environments.
• NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
The accepted CDC guidelines and proposed regulations are also established with help from the NIOSH. This national institute and the CDC publish guidelines for the mass integration and adherence to all federal rules and regulations for safety. NOISH also publishes reports, press, products, multimedia, regulatory information, and offers a centralized access point online for all the institute data. NOISH offers leadership training, employment safety services, support programs and research studies. The EPA, CDC, OSHA, and all agencies related to biohazards utilize NIOSH as a resource center in various capacities.
Best practices for employers and work environments for hazardous materials remediation begin with the standardized laws, as set by OSHA, the EPA and other regulatory agency collaborations. Each of the laws and guidelines becomes integrated within the system as a whole, as any new standards are accepted federally, then eventually at the state and local levels, as well. These following legislations are some of the more important national bio hazard remediation laws or guidelines set forth in the last century, going through until today.Although not a complete listing of the remediation laws, most are directly impacted by the existence of these more critical legislative regulation acts. All of them are used at least in theory by the EPA, OSHA, DOT, and other primary agencies to interpret any current protocols in current questionable circumstances and new legal situations that arise concerning bio hazard remediation standards.Here are the important national legislations related to remediation services.
• Pharmaceutical Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
Established over 30 years ago, the RCRA was put in place to protect human beings and the environment from potentially hazardous waste disposal. This was to ensure such waste materials were managed in methods that were environmentally responsible. A big concern today is the disposal of drugs and medical hazardous materials, the RCRA still is used in revision for the management of pharmaceutical regulations to prevent human health risks. The act includes regulations and new guidelines for pharmaceutical waste characterization, managing, and using a company by permission to review hospital waste products, pharmacy items, and compounded formulas.
• National Drug Code (NDC)
By this code standard are formulary characterizations validated for drugs, so that any drug can be classified for regulations or requirements determined by the EPA, DOT, and RCRA. Each product listed for pharmaceutical waste characterization must have approval as an NDC product. Characterization is critical U-listed and P-listed hazardous waste, or in the case of chemotherapy agents. NDC products must be in compliance for managing pharmaceutical waste according to OSHA, RCRA and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
• Medical Waste Tracking Act Of 1988 (MWTA)
The primary regulation of state environmental and health departments medical wastes was regulated for a short time by this act. The EPA has not held authority over waste from medical facilities since the MWTA expired in 1991, although is set a precedent for any number of disposal standards in the medical communities. State regulations vary on the influence from the MWTA, so most federal agencies have regulations for medical waste disposal thanks to the MWTA. These agencies include the CDC, OSHA and larger agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in addition to many others.
• OSHA Standards for Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP Protocol)
Given the high-risk factors associated with bloodborne pathogens, OSHA established the BBP protocol to minimize or mitigate exposures to dangerous infectious pathogen types. The underlying reasoning for this protocol establishment was to standardize universal sets of precautions for bloodborne pathogens. Using a universal protocol premise, all employers exposing workers to blood or biological materials became required to make the assumption that all blood, fluids or other biological agents were potentially infectious. Therefore any medical wastes could be carrying blood-borne pathogens such as HIV, Tuberculosis, or Hepatitis B. Such universal precautionary assumptive rule standards create stricter adherence along with tougher compliance due to the highly specialized regulations. OSHA requires extremely limited exposure to bloodborne pathogens, these acts of limitation fall under cross contamination protocols which also impact bioremediation of worksites, employees, safety control standards, and best practices and assessment of work environments.
• OSHA Standards for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE Protocol)
Additional OSHA protocols are in place to protect employees exposed to blood, fluid, and biological materials, as they are always assumingly infectious. BBP protocol adherence means workers must follow all set guidelines for using protective equipment, respiratory standards, and special protocols for hazardous communications, as set forth by subparts of the mandated federal regulations. For workplace environments, these are some of the most basic and important standards that have saved lives across the United States. Nothing else is more essential for worker safety, then the OSHA establishment of the PPE protocol.
• OSHA Standards for Hazardous Communications (Hazcom)
Hazcom standards are set by the protocols that establish requirements for properly marked or labeled chemicals in use. Hazardous areas must also be demarcated, by way of using established safety zones, biohazard tape, and other identifiers that separate hazardous areas from primary safety areas. There are numerous Hazardous Communication rule sets, all being implemented and regulated for the overall safety of employees, workers, visitors, and the general public. These rules also impact employee safety compliance and create serious violations, if not followed implicitly. Usually, such violations must be validated as the improperly supervised observance of non-compliance, along with written documentations and photographic proof of said violations.
• CDC and NOISH Guidelines
With the expiration of the MWTA in 1991, many regulatory guidelines shifted to being established by the CDC and NOISH. This included the inclusion of remediation protocols as part of the guidelines established by both agencies. The first removal of gross biological material wastes, then beginning the deodorizing and disinfection process stages afterward was an important remediation protocol inclusion. Similarly were the inclusion of guidelines which made blood, biological materials, and other medical waste to be disposed of with the same methods. Recently updated regulations would include all dangerous blood-related guidelines, such as the handling, disposal, or transport for blood or fluid contamination compliance for HIV and AIDS treatment in hospitals.
The Purpose of Biohazard Remediation Laws, Guidelines, and Best Practices
All these guidelines and regulations come together to form a foundational framework of processes used to judge performance standards for all bio hazard remediation services nationwide. These are non-optional compliances that must be followed to stay in legal operation as part of the biohazard industry, this is true for all federal and state branches or departments. These regulations and guidelines apply to all employees and employers, even if their exposure to daily biohazards is minimal.
Any potential of contact with bio hazards is legally treated as ultimately dangerous with risks that can be harmful to those exposed persons. The goal of setting for best practices, standards for biohazards protocols, and hazardous communications is to keep everyone safe. From the public to the worker, from the employee to the corporation, and all levels that lie in-between. Only this way can overall safety standardization be insured and fully maintained in the United States.
Professionals of all types including nurses, doctors, health practitioners, and EMTs are kept safe thanks to the rules set forth by bio hazard remediation laws today. This is also true for non-health care professional workers including dentists, their dental hygienists, epidemiologists, therapists, waste management workers, and standardization trainers. All work around various types of hazardous materials and need these hazards regulated so that all employees, business owners, visitors and the general public can be kept safe from infectious diseases or worse possible scenarios. In the future, there will be a need to revise hazardous remediation laws, guidelines, regulations, and best practices, as the scope of bio-hazardous materials is better understood.
For now, the laws and regulations that are governed and overseen must be evaluated in coherence with the strict compliance standards already set forth. For hazardous waste remediation services that work with medical and non-medical facilities all throughout the nation, it is strict compliance that assures the best possible safety standards. This wide range of agencies, overseers, law regulators on the state and federal levels must continue to work hard at keeping compliance standards higher and tougher to be attained. The health and safety of all national citizens is what could be at stake if anyone or any company is allowed to operate below the acceptable standards.
This information is important for the public and professional world to understand, so as to make use of it when necessary and especially in emergency situations. Thanks to the OSHA, EPA, DOT, CDC, all critical organizations in the United States, bio hazard remediation laws will continue to enforce these important guidelines and these best practices, based on state, federal, and local level needs. Otherwise, there would be no one to help in cases of suicide, homicide, or other bio-hazardous cleanups in events that occur every day in our country. Every step from the inspection of plants, safety standards in hospitals, to the employer guidelines set for waste management policies, each is a step towards a better world with a much safer level of environmental impact.
If we want to keep living on a planet safe for human health, then we must make clear the bio hazard remediation laws and enforce them for everyone.