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Sunday, December 07 2014

Packing Medical Waste In Maryland DC & VA

Looking for information on how to package and transport medical waste? here is a quick overview on some basic guidelines for regulated waste packing and disposal. Contact Us or your local Biohazard waste transporter for more informtions.


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the transport of hazardous materials in commerce. The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR, Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 171-180) set forth standards for classification, packaging, hazard communication, emergency response information, training of hazmat employees, transportation, incident reporting, and security.

Current DOT regulations require training (and retraining) of all employees who perform work functions covered by the Health-Care provider. Any employee who works in a shipping, receiving or material handling area may be involved in preparing or transporting hazardous materials, and if so would be considered a vital employee for the training needed to work with Regulated Medical Waste and other Hazardous waste. Common hazmat employee functions covered by this training requirement include, but are not limited to the following:

• Filling a hazardous materials packaging

• Closing a filled hazardous materials package or container

• Marking or labeling a package to indicate it contains a hazardous material

• Preparing a shipping paper

• Certifying on the shipping paper that a hazardous material is in proper condition for transportation

• Loading a hazardous material package onto a transport vehicle

The training must include information on general awareness and familiarization of the HMR, security awareness, safety, and information specific to the functions carried out by the hazmat employee. Certificates of training and testing, along with the training materials, must be kept on file by the hazmat employer. There can be significant penalties imposed by the DOT for not complying with the HMR and these training requirements.

 Hazardous Materials

A hazardous material is a substance or material which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and which has been so designated by the following class.

1 – Explosives

2 – Compressed gases

3 – Flammable liquids

4 – Flammable solids

5 – Oxidizers and organic peroxides

6 – Toxic and infectious substances

7 – Radioactive materials

8 – Corrosives

9 – Miscellaneous hazardous materials

Some of the 9 hazard classes are further divided into subclasses called Divisions. For example, Class 2 includes Division 2.1 (Flammable gases), Division 2.2 (Nonflammable gases), and Division 2.3 (Toxic gases). The Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101) is the backbone of the Hazardous Materials Regulations. Understanding and knowing how to use this table is the first step toward compliance. For each material listed, the Hazardous Materials Table identifies each hazard class or specifies that the material is forbidden in transportation. It provides the proper shipping name of the material or directs the user to the preferred proper shipping name. In addition, the table specifies or references requirements pertaining to labeling, packaging, and quantity limits aboard aircraft, and stowage of hazardous materials aboard vessels.


Definition – In General

Regulated medical waste, also known as infectious waste, biohazards waste, or path waste, is defined in the HMR as: waste or reusable material derived from the medical treatment of an animal or human, which includes diagnosis and immunization, or from biomedical research, which includes the production and testing of biological products. Waste capable of producing an infectious disease because it contains pathogens of sufficient virulence and quantity so that exposure to the waste by a susceptible human host could result in an infectious disease.

These wastes include isolation wastes, cultures and stocks of etiologic agents, blood and blood products, pathological wastes, other contaminated wastes from surgery and autopsy, contaminated laboratory wastes, sharps, dialysis unit wastes, and discarded biological materials known or suspected to be infectious.


Regulated medical waste has particular packaging requirements which must be followed in order to comply with DOT regulations. Laboratory workers are responsible for using the proper biohazard bags and boxes or plastic tubs, and closing them correctly. Laboratory workers should refer to the guidelines provided by the regulated medical waste disposal vendor for proper packaging instructions. These instructions are provided at all the path waste pickup locations.

Key points to remember are outlined below.

• Only use DOT approved boxes, tubs and bags provided by the medical waste disposal vendor

• The weight limit on boxes or tubs are 40lbs (Industry Standard)

• Sharp materials must be placed into puncture-resistant containers prior to placing in a box or tub

• Boxes and tubs must be lined with the provided RED plastic Bio-Liner

• Bags must be sealed

• Boxes and tubs must be securely closed and taped

• Boxes or tubs must not be leaking

All required markings, including the universal biohazard symbol, are present on the provided boxes and tubs.

Shipping papers

Regulated medical waste must be accompanied by a shipping paper when transported. The shipping paper is known as the Regulated Medical Waste Manifest, which is provided by the waste disposal vendor, and acts as a tracking document for the transporter and disposal facility. The manifest provides information to emergency responders, identifying the hazardous material from the Hazardous Materials Table, by proper shipping name, hazard class, ID number, and packing group as shown below: Regulated medical waste, 6.2, UN3291, PG II

The quantity of waste must also appear on the manifest, and is documented by the transporter at the time of pickup. The manifest should only be signed by a worker that has completed this training. By signing the manifest at the time of pickup, the laboratory worker is certifying that the regulated medical waste is packaged properly and is ready for transport. This is ensured when laboratory workers follow the packaging guidelines provided by the disposal vendor.

Emergency response information is required to be included with the shipping paper for a hazardous material. This information is provided on the Regulated Medical Waste Manifest, and includes contact numbers in case of an emergency involving the hazardous material. The regulated medical waste transporter will have additional emergency response information available at all times the material is in transport, and will also have the necessary spill and contamination control materials available.


Comply with applicable federal, state, and local requirements. When handling containers of potentially biohazard material, the laboratory worker should always take the necessary measures to avoid exposure. Laboratory coats or aprons, eye protection, face shields, gloves, respiratory protection, or other personal protective equipment should be used when necessary. Laboratory workers should be aware of the potential for sharps injuries, as well as leaking containers. If a container is found to be leaking, use caution and the appropriate personal protective equipment to transfer the material to a non-leaking container.

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