Medical waste management

Overview

Infectious waste is defined in 287.07(7)(c)1.c. Wis. Stats. as solid waste that contains pathogens with sufficient virulence and in sufficient quantity that exposure of a susceptible human or animal to the solid waste could cause the human or animal to contract an infectious disease. Medical waste is defined in 299.51(1)(b), Wis. Stats. as infectious waste and other waste that contains or may be mixed with infectious waste. 

Regulatory citations

Medical waste in Wisconsin is regulated under the provisions of NR 526 . Where applicable. OSHA's bloodborne pathogen standard also applies.

Employee training

Although NR 526 has no specific requirements for campus infectious waste handlers, other training requirements (e.g., SPS) apply.

General requirements

The following solid wastes are presumed to be infectious:

  • Sharps:
     Contaminated sharps which are both infectious and may easily cause punctures or cuts in the skin, including but not limited to: hypodermic needles, syringes with needles attached, scalpel blades, lancets, broken glass vials, broken rigid plastic vials and laboratory slides.

    Unused or disinfected sharps which are being discarded, including hypodermic needles, scalpel blades, lancets and syringes with needles attached.

  •  Bulk blood and body fluids from humans.

  •  Human tissue.

  •  Microbiological laboratory waste. "Microbiological laboratory waste" means cultures derived from clinical specimens or laboratory equipment which has come in contact with these cultures.

  • Tissue, bulk blood or body fluids from an animal which is carrying a zoonotic infectious agent.

The following solid wastes are presumed NOT to be infectious:

  • Items soiled but not saturated with blood or body fluids from humans
  • Intravenous tubing after needles have been detached.

  • Tissue, blood, body fluids or cultures from an animal which is not known to be carrying or experimentally infected with a zoonotic infectious agent.

  • Animal manure and bedding.

  • Other solid wastes, including but not limited to containers, packages, waste glass, laboratory equipment and other materials which have had no contact with blood, body fluids, clinical cultures or infectious agents.

  • Formerly infectious waste, after it has been treated according to s. NR 526.11.

Containment

Sharps must be contained in rigid, puncture−resistant labeled containers made of materials including but not limited to metal or rigid plastic, designed to prevent the loss of the contents and labeled with a visible bio− hazard emblem or with the visible words “bio−hazard”, “sharps” or “infectious waste”.

Other infectious waste must be contained in sturdy packaging as described in NR 526.07.

Worker protection

Infectious waste transportation

Persons who meet any of the following conditions are exempt from being licensed as an infectious waste transporter:

  • Persons transporting infectious waste only on private roads on the same property where the infectious waste was generated and using vehicles or covered carts owned or leased by the infectious waste generator.
  • Persons transporting infectious waste only on private roads between the property where the infectious waste was generated and a contiguous property, and using vehicles or covered carts owned or leased by either the infectious waste generator and the owner of the contiguous property.
  • Persons transporting less than 50 pounds of infectious waste per calendar month.

Infectious waste storage

To be exempt from the requirement to obtain an infectious waste storage facility license, a facility must:

(a) be located on the property where the infectious waste is generated or,
(b) be located on the property where the infectious waste is generated and accept infectious waste from off−site generators. The total quantity of infectious waste, including items mixed with infectious waste, accepted from off−site must be less than the quantity generated on−site or less than 500 pounds per month, whichever is less and the waste must be accepted on a not−for−profit and cost−only basis or,
(c) be a sharps collection station which complies with all of the requirements under NR526.09 (5).

Minimum requirements for all persons storing infectious waste:

  • The storage area must be kept clean and be impermeable to liquids. Carpeted areas or wooden floors may not be used in storage areas.
  • The storage area designated for infectious waste may contain only infectious wastes and their containers. The storage area may be an area designated within a room.
  • The storage area shall be in an enclosed building, container or vehicle so that the infectious waste is not exposed to weather.
  • Access to the storage area shall be limited to authorized personnel.
  • Nuisance conditions shall be prevented from developing. Appropriate measures shall be taken to prevent odors, including but not limited to refrigerating the infectious waste below 42 degrees Fahrenheit until treated.
  • If the infectious waste is to be treated off−site, the operator of the infectious waste storage facility shall relinquish the infectious waste only to an infectious waste transporter licensed by the department or to a person exempt from licensing under s. NR 526.10 (2).
  •  The containers of infectious waste shall be removed and emptied as necessary, but at least every 90 days.
  • The operator of the infectious waste storage facility shall keep records of how much and where the infectious waste has been sent off−site. Records may consist of any of the following: copies of infectious waste manifests, invoices, logs or other written documentation of the amount of infectious waste sent off−site for treatment.

 Recordkeeping and reporting

  • All infectious waste generators shall keep records of the amount of infectious waste sent off−site for treatment.

  • Records shall include generator, transporter and destination information and an authorized signature from each
  • Records shall include waste quantities and composition
  • You are required to keep copies of records for three years after waste has been treated. UW System Administration asks campuses to keep copies in perpetuity, due to disposal liability concerns.
  • An infectious waste generator who is either required to use manifests or required to submit a waste reduction progress report must submit an annual report (instructions) and filing fee to the DNR. An annual report form submitted by a medical facility shall be signed by the director of the facility. An annual report form submitted by other infectious waste generators shall be signed by the administrator, chief executive officer or board of directors.
  • A clinic, hospital or nursing home that is not exempt may have to file a Medical Waste Reduction Progress Report.

References and resources

NR 526:  Medical Waste Management

DNR medical and infectious waste information

Infectious waste annual report

Infectious waste annual report instructions

Infectious waste annual report guidance

 


Disclaimer

This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.
(Read full legal disclaimer.)