Choosing the right vendor to safely dispose of your medical waste is critical.
Medical waste comes from a variety of sources, including hospitals, research facilities, pharmacies, blood banks, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
Each year, hospitals alone in the United States are responsible for 5.9 million tons of medical waste.
Selecting a vendor that will transport your medical waste off-site and dispose of it properly isn’t as simple as randomly selecting one you find online. As a hazardous waste generator, you are responsible for meeting cradle to grave requirements.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) mandates that you are responsible for hazardous medical waste from its initial generation to its final disposal.
Even if the medical waste you produce isn’t classified as hazardous (85% of the waste health care activities generate is non hazardous), you’re still responsible for ensuring it is disposed of properly.
Not meeting all cradle to grave requirements and ensuring your medical waste is safely disposed of can expose your business to costly legal ramifications and a damaged reputation.
Here’s what you need to know to find the right vendor if you’re a business in the Los Angeles, California area and require medical waste disposal services.
A Vendor Should Be Experienced In Medical Waste Disposal
Although there are several hazardous waste disposal vendors, not every one of them is certified or has experience in medical waste disposal.
Why is this important? The vendor must have the ability and the appropriate certifications to transport the hazardous waste you generate so that you can be certain that your waste is being taken care of legally.
An experienced hazardous waste disposal company can also help you identify your medical waste. Federal and state regulations stipulate that you must distinguish what type of waste you produce and the quantity you generate. This will determine any associated regulations that pertain to how you dispose of the waste.
For example, some medical waste may pose more of a threat to drinking water and the environment, while other types of medical waste may have flammable or corrosive characteristics. Pharmaceutical waste may be subject to stricter regulations than other types of medical waste.
Choosing a vendor that can help you identify your waste stream, characterize it and follow any associated regulations with it helps ensure you stay in regulatory compliance as a company.
Don’t Look For Short-Cuts
Hazardous waste disposal companies experienced in medical waste should offer a variety of services and should never take any short-cuts in the name of cost savings or speed.
The best vendor isn’t always the least expensive one. Never trade efficiency for the sake of a few bucks. This could cost you more in the long run when you run into liabilities associated with your improper waste disposal.
A high quality vendor should offer to:
- Identify wastes through sampling and testing
- Transport the wastes to the appropriate recycling or disposal sites
- Offer prompt pickups
- Address any concerns you have, including costs or timelines
- Prepare labels, manifests and other paperwork as required by the state and federal governments
- Help you package your waste properly
When it comes to choosing the right vendor, working with one that has in-depth knowledge of regulations your company’s waste is subject to is a must.
Legal Vendors Are A Click Away
One of the most frequent questions a business has about finding a medical waste disposal company in Los Angeles is how to know whether the business is legally permitted to transport your waste.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control maintains a Registered Hazardous Waste Transporter Database. Once you have a disposal company in mind that services the Los Angeles area, you can use this database to verify whether the business is a registered waste transporter.
This database also provides:
- When the transporter’s registration expires
- The transporter’s registration number
- The transporter’s location and contact information
Once you select a transporter, it’s a good idea to routinely check that the company has maintained its permits, since registration is only valid for one year. Although your vendor may be reliable one year, if it does not meet certain requirements, it can lose its approved registration status.
Do Your Due Diligence
Finally, although you may have one or more medical waste disposal vendors in mind to work with, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure your needs as a hazardous waste generator are met.
Information you should seek from the vendor include:
- Documentation of compliance history
- Licenses and permits
- Proof that personnel are properly trained
- A statement of qualifications (SOQ)
- Whether subcontractors are used, and if so, which companies
- A list of references
Our article, How To Find A Hazardous Waste Disposal Company in Los Angeles, further outlines questions you should ask through the process of securing a disposal company for your medical waste.
Choosing the right vendor for your medical waste disposal in the city of Los Angeles is critical to meet all state and federal regulations, including cradle to grave requirements. Once you have determined which vendor best meets your needs as a business, it’s important to take one final step before finalizing any agreements.
Ask the disposal company if it offers a walk-through program.
A walk-through program offers your business the opportunity to for an expert in medical waste management to evaluate your company and offer any insights into areas of focus, such as:
- Waste storage evaluation
- Emergency readiness
- Hazardous waste evaluation
This evaluation of your medical waste procedures will help give you the confidence that the company you are about to work with not only has the experience necessary to safely and properly dispose of your waste, but can customize a plan based on your specific needs.