Clinical Waste - Sharps and Other Health Risks
Clinical waste can pose a serious risk to the health and safety of both workers and members of the general public who may inadvertently come into contact with it if it is not disposed of in a correct and safe manner.
Numerous industries and professions create and handle clinical and biohazardous waste, and as such have a requirement to ensure its proper storage and disposal. These include medical facilities such as hospitals and doctors surgeries, dentists, veterinary surgeries and mobile blood donation facilities to name but a few.
The two main dangers and hazards associated with such facilities include sharps risks from syringes and other sharp implements such as scalpels, along with infection from contact with fluids on items like used bandages or organic tissue.
In fact, sharp objects can pose a danger not only from cuts and lacerations caused by the sharp item itself, but can also spread infection if blood or tissue is present on it. It is for this reason that sharps training is so important for any worker who has the possibility of coming into contact with, or who works with, sharp objects. This is not solely limited to those working in the medical profession, but also includes those in many other roles such as customs officials who have to search people and bags and may come into contact with a sharp object such as a syringe or knife.
A third danger along with sharps and infection risks comes from discarded drugs and medicine. All medication has a use-by date on the packaging, after which it is highly inadvisable to take it, particularly as its effectiveness is likely to be severely reduced. Medical facilities will often keep stocks of drugs and medicine on the premises to dispense to patients. If any of this reaches its use-by date and is still on the shelf it will need to be disposed of properly; often destroyed so that it does not fall into the hands of others who may be tempted to take it as a recreational drug or try and sell it on to others for money, as this will put these people's health and possibly even their lives at risk.