Person getting blood drawn from his arm

Blood banks play a critical role in healthcare by collecting, storing, and distributing blood for patients needing transfusions. Each day with each patient, blood banks generate regulated medical wastes (RMW), so safety must be a priority. Due to the generation of RMW, employees must receive training such as  OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens, DOT, and other federal and state-mandated requirements. This training helps blood banks maintain workplace safety and avoid potential fines and penalties.

RMW Wastes Generated at Blood Banks

Blood and blood products can transmit serious diseases, including Hepatitis B & C, HIV, and malaria to name a few. Because of the dangers involved, the donation, handling, labeling, storage, and distribution of blood and blood products is regulated by multiple agencies, including OSHA and the FDA.

To keep blood donation safe, new sterile equipment is used for every donor, so there’s no chance of any donor being infected by a bloodborne pathogen. The many precautions taken to guard against infection mean that each step of the donation process generates regulated medical wastes.

Types of RMW generated at blood banks during the screening and collection processes include:

  • Sharps waste from the initial hemoglobin test. All donors undergo a preliminary screening prior to the actual donation process.
  • Waste from the pre-collection testing process: Before blood is collected for donation, it’s collected into tubes for screening.
  • Waste from the donation process. The actual blood, plasma, and/or platelet donation generates medical waste in the form of tubes, sharps, and collection bags.
  • Blood/Blood products: Sometimes the blood/blood products collected are unusable for various reasons and must be disposed of too.

This waste is classified as “red bag waste,” which must be placed in secure containers for proper disposal and treatment. An RMW transporter, such as Sharps Compliance, would need to be utilized to come to your blood bank to pick up the waste for the most cost-effective and compliant management of your RMW per federal and state regulatory requirements. Additionally, Sharps Compliance offers our proprietary online waste tracking program, SharpsTracer, where the generator can see when waste was received, its weight, and the certification of destruction.

Safety & Compliance Training for Blood Bank Staff

Disposal costs for regulated medical wastes are much more expensive than costs to dispose of general and recycling wastes. Thus, keeping all non-RMW waste out of red bag containers is important. Proper staff training not only helps you comply with regulations but can help you save money on RMW disposal costs.

OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention standard outlines the proper use and management of sharps and how to reduce the potential for employee needlesticks and exposure incidents. To reduce or eliminate the danger of exposure to bloodborne pathogens and needlestick injuries, employers

“…must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an employer will use engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, employee training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, and other provisions as required by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030).”

OSHA infographic: 5 Ways to Prevent Sharps & Needlestick Injuries

Learn more about OSHA compliance:

Every blood bank team member who may come into contact with blood products or other contaminated items must receive safety and compliance training. Employees may need training in one or more of the following areas:

  • OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Hazard Communication
  • HHS-Compliant HIPAA training
  • DOT training required for packaging and manifesting regulated medical waste
  • Hand Hygiene
  • Sharps Safety Training
  • PPE

Sharps Compliance Can Help

When your employees are ready for training, we’re ready for them! Our online training system, ComplianceTrac, is available 24/7, so individual staffers can access required training on their schedule. The system’s in-depth training videos allow employees to train in typically less than an hour and receive instant completion certificates.

We’re an experienced, full-service medical waste disposal company. Our regulatory experts understand the complex web of federal, state, and local medical waste regulations. Contact us online or call 800.772.5657 to talk with us about a custom RMW disposal solution for your blood bank.

Kathryn earned her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from Texas A&M University and her Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas. She is certified in high-complexity testing by the ASCP and has been published in the journal Cancer Cytopathology. Her experience ranges from the clinical laboratory to compliance expertise in biohazardous waste management.

published in Medical Waste