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fire safety in medical offices

4 Simple Steps to Fire Safety in Your Workplace

Fire risk in medical facilities is often greater than in other kinds of businesses because of the nature of the equipment used, the type of supplies that must be stored and the kind of waste produced. With proper care these risks can be reduced.
  1. Take steps to avoid a fire caused by cigarette smoking.
Most fires are caused by careless smoking. If you do allow smoking in any portion of your facility, make sure that the ashtrays you provide, are deep and don’t tip easily. When emptying ashtrays, be extra careful, as the embers left behind could easily ignite paper or other kinds of refuse. Having a metal container on the premises for this purpose is helpful. The best receptacles are the ones with a sand tray so cigarettes can be doused effectively from the moment they’re no longer in use. Obviously, smoking should never be allowed anywhere near where oxygen is being used.
  1. Ensure your workplace is wired appropriately and employees are trained to avoid electrical fires.
One of the greatest fire risks is overloaded power plugs. If you’re using more equipment in a room than the space’s electrical system allows for, upgrade the room’s wiring to suit that room’s purpose. Likewise all equipment should be inspected regularly for signs of wear or frayed wires. Cracked and split cords and plugs can also contribute to an electrical fire. The first thing to do in an electrical fire is to shut off the power. Make sure all your employees know where the main power shut off is located. Laminated instructions for how to shut the power should be mounted in that area.
  1. Make sure your facility is fully equipped to detect and manage a fire.
Preparation is key. Regular inspections of smoke detectors and fire alarms and extinguishers are a basic. An office armed with an overhead sprinkler system and safety blankets offers another level of protection. If you’re handling different kinds of materials, make sure you have the right kind of extinguishers on hand. A simple water extinguisher will work on a small paper, wood or cloth blaze but isn’t effective for fires involving flammable liquids, gases or oils. A foam extinguisher is a step up but that still won’t douse a fire being fueled by gas or electricity. A dry powder extinguisher is effective on everything but an oil-based fire and a top of the line carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguisher handles all but paper/wood and gas fires. To cover all your bases you’d be wise to have foam and dry powder extinguishers available and to make sure your staff knows which one to use in which situation.
  1. Prepare your facility and employees with an emergency fire plan.
Your office or facility should have an emergency fire plan and your employees should be trained on how to implement it. From knowing where smoke alarms and extinguishers are located to how to shut off oxygen machines and other compressed gas systems, fortune favors the prepared. If a fire gets out of hand, 911 should be called and precautions against smoke inhalation should be taken. Instruct your staff to close doors and to make sure any patients on the premises are far away from the hazardous area. In severe cases, crawling to an exit and using damp towels to cover mouths and noses can save lives. While modern precautions have made fire a rare occurrence, the unexpected can still happen and it’s the responsibility of any medical clinic or facility to protect its patients and workers. Proper inspection of all fire safety equipment, and adequate training on how to use it, can make the difference between an annoyance and a catastrophe.
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waste disposal for nevada

Medical Waste Disposal for the State of Nevada

Every state has it’s own regulations and definition of Regulated Medical Waste or RMW. The state of Nevada takes responsibility to its citizens seriously to ensure that medical and health care facilities are disposing of medical waste in a manner that protects the environment and its citizens. In Nevada, the agency involved in overseeing the efficient treatment, storage, transportation, and disposal of medical waste is the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. Local counties or governments institutions working in conjunction with this agency include the Southern Nevada Health District. For the State of Nevada, medical waste is defined and classified as the following: “…Waste which is generated or produced as a result of any of the following actions: diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, research [pertaining to the above], the production or testing of biologicals.” Medical waste is classified as being either bio-hazardous waste, sharps waste, and waste generated at trauma sites (Source: Southern Nevada Health District – .pdf document) TREATMENT As most other States, the State of Nevada Health Authority allows for medical waste to be treated using the following methods:
  • Incineration
  • Steam-based Disinfection Methods (Autoclaving)
  • Alternative Treatments
Incineration Medical waste should be treated to burn temperatures of no less than 1,400ᴼF (760ᴼC). During the incineration process, frequent monitoring is required with a monitoring report to be produced to the Health Authority. Incinerated medical waste must be reduced to ash. Medical treatment centers are to ensure that incinerators are upgraded in accordance with the Clean Air Act. Autoclaving Using this method, medical waste should be treated by temperatures of no less than 250ᴼF (121.1ᴼC) for 30 minutes per 15 pounds per square inch of gauge pressure. The following medical waste materials are not to be treated using this method:
  • Suction canisters with solidified contents
  • Items containing trace chemotherapy waste
  • Pathologic or human specimen, including anatomical body parts generated from surgery or autopsy
  • Contaminated animal carcasses or body parts deemed pathogenic
  • Pharmaceutical waste
Alternative Treatment Methods All alternative treatment technologies must be approved by the Health Authority. All treatment facilities using these methods are required to obtain a permit from the Health Authority. STORAGE Medical waste should be stored in a secure location that is only accessible to authorized personnel.
  • Bio-hazardous waste is to be placed in red bags clearly stating the international biohazard symbol, and should be stored at no more than 32ᴼF for seven days or stored below 32ᴼF for no more than 30 days.
  • Sharps are to be placed in sharp containers for no more than 30 days and should be sealed and capped before treatment.
TRANSPORTATION Generators (hospitals, clinics, veterinary hospitals, dental offices, etc.) are required by the state to utilize medical waste transporters who have received a permit from the Health Authority within the governed district. Medical waste transportation requirements include:
  • Having medical waste labeled and stored according to state regulations
  • Not unloading, reloading and transferring medical waste to any other vehicle or facility unless permitted.
  • Not transporting improperly stored and labeled medical waste.
  • Maintain transportation records which are to be kept for future inspections by Health Authority.
RESOURCES For more information about medical waste management in the state of Nevada, you can view the following sources:
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hazmat suit for medical purpouses

What are Hazmat Suits and What You Should Know About Them

Hazmat suits are being spotted more in the public eye due to the devastating outbreak of the Ebola Virus since March 2014. While many people think of hazmat suits as weird-looking, earthly spacesuits, this protective gear serves as a level of protection for trained personnel against hazardous materials. So what exactly are hazmat suits? According to Wikipedia.org, Hazmat suits or Hazardous material suits are classified as personal protective gear, in other words, gear that is designed to suit the wearer’s body to protect against hazardous materials. Hazardous materials would typically include explosives, gases, liquids, radioactive agents, pathogenic and/or viral diseases, etc. (Source: Healthtraining.inhs.org) – .pdf document Because hazmat suits are nominally sealed from outside exposure, equipment known as the self-contained breathing apparatus or SCBA are combined with the protective gear. WHO USES HAZAMAT SUITS? Hazmat suit wearers include any trained personnel who handle hazardous materials. These include persons working in Medical and Healthcare Facilities, Fire Stations, Nuclear Sites or Laboratories, Biological Laboratories, etc. THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF HAZMAT SUITS Despite the standard hazmat suit often shown through the media, there are actually different types of hazmat suits that are used depending on the type of hazardous material as well as the situation surrounding the toxic materials. At the basic level, hazmat gear comprises of “an air and water-proof oversuit”, boots, gloves and hood. These separate gear pieces are taped at the ankles and the wrists to prevent exposure. However, the different levels of Hazmat suits (as classified in the United States) are: Level A, Level B, Level C, and Level D. Level A Level A Hazmat suits are worn when handling increasingly dangerous substances and thus provide more layers of protection. Hazmat-suit.com describes the protective gear as a “life-support system” as the suit is equipped with SCBA, chemically protective gloves and boots outlined with “steel shanks and toes”, and a complete face mask with a hood. These suits are also equipped with emergency air and two-way communication devices, including a cooling fan, among other pieces of equipment. Level B Often designed as a two-piece suit, Level B Hazmat gear is similar to that of Level A, with the exception being that the breathing apparatus is located on the outside of the gear, and thus vulnerable to toxic vapors. Level C Level C Hazmat suits do not utilize the SCBA technology like its counterparts Levels A and B; however, Level C Hazmat breathing apparatus consists of masks, air filters and respirators. Level D Offering the least bit of coverage are the Level D Hazmat gears. These gears, though ‘light’ in comparison to the others, are equipped with chemical resistant overalls, steel toes and shanks on boots. No breathing equipment is utilized. (Source: Hazmat-suit.com) To ensure the level of suit to be used, it must be reiterated that the classification of the hazardous material must be known in order to select the most applicable gear. Once these suits have been used, these trained personnel must be further decontaminated before the suit is removed and disposed of. RESOURCES For more information on Hazmat Responders, Training Requirements and Suits, visit the following website: Also, feel free to visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) website for more details regarding the handling of Hazardous Materials and Hazmat Suits.
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Medical Waste Disposal for the State of Hawaii

The Hawaii Islands continue to be one of the most beloved tourist attractions in the United States. With scores of visitors year round, the state of Hawaii boasts crystal clear waters, beautiful flora and fauna, and most of all, good surf. In order to keep this state environmentally beautiful and safe, the Hawaiian government, in accordance with federal laws, must continue to uphold medical waste disposal regulations pertaining to the region. The regulatory agency mainly overseeing the process of medical waste management and disposal is the US Department of Health (DOH), State of Hawaii. Also, according to the hercenter.org, the state is one of 24 states working in accordance with federal regulations outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Department of Health, in the document classified as “The Hawaii Rules for Management and Disposal of Infectious Waste”, defines infectious waste as the following: “any waste that may contain pathogens capable of causing an infectious disease….” The DOH further defines infectious waste to include, but is not exclusive to, the following:
  • Infectious isolation waste
  • Human pathological waste
  • Contaminated sharps (needles, syringes, surgical equipment, etc.)
  • Animal waste
  • Blood, blood products and other bodily fluids
Such infectious (medical) wastes are often generated by medical and healthcare facilities such as: hospitals, veterinary clinics, dentists, laboratories, etc., hence these facilities are often titled “generators”. These generators are subject to state and federal laws regarding the management and disposal of infectious [medical] waste, and are legally responsible for the entire process from storage and treatment to actual disposal. TREATMENT Prior to disposal, infectious medical waste is to be treated using the following state and federally approved methods:
  • Autoclaving
  • Incineration
  • Chemical disinfectants
The following infectious wastes are to be treated using the following methods, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the OSHA, and the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CSLI)—non-exclusive listing:
  • Infectious Isolation waste – autoclaving, incineration
  • Blood, blood products, and bodily fluids – incineration, disinfection, sterilization
  • Contaminated sharps – incineration, disinfection, sterilization
  • Animal waste – incineration, disinfection, sterilization
STORAGE According the DOH, all untreated infectious waste must remain separate and apart from all other waste, including solid waste. They should then be stored in containers lined with red bags, often dubbed ‘red bag waste’, or into bags clearly marked with the Universal Biohazard Symbol. Sharps are to be stored into red, puncture-proof, non-leakage containers, or bags marked with the Universal Biohazard symbol. The storage area must be well ventilated and secure from animals and unauthorized personnel. TRANSPORTATION For untreated waste, the DOH recommends that these materials be placed in non-soluble red plastic bags, or bags clearly marked with the Universal Biohazard symbol. Reusable crates and containers, bins and other containment materials are to be thoroughly cleaned after each use and disinfected daily. Generally, the recommendations used to store infectious waste material are one and the same when it comes to transportation. However, untreated infectious waste must not be transported with non-infectious waste, unless total waste (both infectious and non-infectious) are to be treated and disposed of as infectious waste. For the State of Hawaii, medical waste transport vehicles are to display the Universal Biohazard symbol. RESOURCES For more information on medical waste management and disposal for the State of Hawaii, you can visit the following:
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4 Most Common Medical Waste Disposal Mistakes

Is your office making costly medical disposal mistakes?
Hospitals, clinics, dental offices, veterinary clinics, laboratories are all medical and healthcare facilities that generate medical waste. They are required by federal, state, and even local laws, to create an operational medical waste management protocol to ensure the safety of its workers and the environment.

There are a few common mistakes that a lot of facilities make when disposing medical waste like bio-hazardous waste, animal waste, radioactive waste and unused pharmaceuticals. Make sure your office isn’t making costly inefficient mistakes.

  1. Disposing Solid Waste As Regulated Medical Waste (RMW)
The most common mistake is to needlessly dispose of solid waste as regulated medical waste. According to federal law, solid waste is only to be disposed of as RMW if the solid waste had come into contact with contaminated materials.
Unfortunately, there are many generators who have adopted a laissez-faire approach towards the disposal of both solid waste and regulated medical waste. This is not only dangerous mismanagement, but it also proves costly to the healthcare facility, as it is much more expensive to dispose of regulated medical waste than solid waste.

  1. Inconsistent Medical Waste Management Training For Medical Staff
Medical Waste Management typically involves the training of medical staff in waste disposal practices; however, the consistency of such training, for many medical and healthcare facilities, often peters out.
Luckily, there are many agencies such as the EPA, OSHA, etc., that makes resources available for healthcare facilities to formulate a training program that will ensure the safety of workers, as well as decrease the chances of infection and/or contamination.
Additionally, some reputable medical waste transporters/haulers offer assistance in the form of training staff to stay within federal and state regulations.
  1. Failing To Transport Medical Waste According To Federal And State Regulations
According to merriinc.com, there are healthcare facilities that are not transporting untreated and treated medical waste correctly. Some common issues include; transporting regulated medical waste in improper containers and utilizing medical waste transports/haulers that do not have a permit to transport medical waste weighing over 50 pounds.
These violations results in heavy penalties to both the transporter/hauler and the medical or healthcare facility.
  1. Treating And Disposing Of Medical Waste Using Environmentally Dangerous Methods
Treating and disposing of medical waste using the method of incineration has been approved on federal, state, and local levels. However, according to Health Care Without Harm, incinerators contribute significantly to dioxin, mercury, lead and other pollutants that threaten the general populace. Can it be that this method of treating medical waste is just as harmful as the waste itself?
To answer this question, many companies have developed environmentally friendly technology to be made available to medical waste treatment facilities to ensure that medical waste is not only treated effectively, but that the residue generated is not harmful to the environment.

  One of the most important steps is for generators to review individual state and local laws regarding medical waste management practices.  Medical and healthcare facilities can also keep abreast of regulations set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US Department of Health (DOH), and/or the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regarding best medical waste disposal practices.

As always, Cyntox Medical Waste Disposal is here to answer any questions regarding your facilities compliance and medical waste disposal needs.
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3 Steps for Medical Waste Management in Nursing Homes

Did you know that according to the demographic statistics of the United States, about 70 million Americans will be at the age of 65 years and over by 2030? No, it’s not your imagination that nursing homes have been sprouting up at a steady pace to keep up with present and future needs. People incorrectly classify medical waste generated by nursing homes as home-generated or household medical waste—which has non-regulated procedures for disposal. However, most states classify nursing homes as an institution providing healthcare to the community, and therefore are required to comply with both state and federal laws in the disposal of medical waste. Regulated Medical Waste (bio-hazardous waste) is defined as medical waste that contains blood, bodily fluids or other infectious material that risk contaminating other objects and the wider community (Source: Healthcare Environment Resource Center). DISPOSAL PROCESS OF RMWs FOR NURSING HOMES STEP ONE All nursing homes and any medical facility need to have a proper medical waste management program in place. This can decrease the amount and costs of medical waste generated at the facility. It is important to clearly indicate to staff and residents the correct items that are suitable for recycling and for medical waste. Since any recyclable items that have come into contact with regulated medical waste materials will have to be treated and disposed of properly. STEP TWO The next step is to properly store contaminated medical waste. If your nursing home doesn’t have its own treatment facilities, a regulated medical waste hauler can transport the RMWs. All medical waste must be stored in a manner appropriate to the type of waste:
  • Sharps (inclusive of needles, syringes, lancelets, etc.) must be contained in metal containers with a secure lid, or a ‘sharps’ container, which as the name suggests, is a container suitable for such material. These containers must be kept out of reach, and/or placed in a secure area.
  • Medical gloves, bandages, sheets, etc. should be secured in a plastic bag.
  • Nursing homes are encouraged to speak with their medical waste service providers to provide the use of clean and reusable containers to the facility.
  STEP THREE Nursing homes are required to employ the use of medical waste transporters or haulers to properly transport and dispose of regulated medical waste. The haulers will deliver properly packaged medical waste to treatment facilities and will then be transported to a disposal site. Nursing homes not only have a responsibility to the elderly and others needing healthcare assistance, but they have a responsibility to their staff and the wider community by ensuring that a proper medical waste management program is in place. By following the steps above, a nursing home can see a reduction in medical waste disposal costs and a decrease to risks of infection.
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