medical waste pickup truck

A Sharps Compliance driver has one of the most important jobs in the company. For many of our pickup customers, the driver is the face of the company and main point of contact. Every driver gets questions about safety, waste treatment, training, and more.

Recently, we spoke with two Sharps Compliance drivers, Albert Willis and Josh Goble, about their daily experiences and the relationships they build with customers. What do Albert and Josh wish every pickup customer knew about medical waste disposal, safety, and their jobs?

This is your chance to find out.

Safety Doesn’t Stop with You

Albert and Josh aren’t just drivers; sometimes, they’re also educators.

Albert:  “I help customers understand that safety protects everyone involved. Safety starts when you place the waste in a secure container, but it doesn’t stop there. It goes all the way from collecting the waste to packaging it, shipping it, to autoclave and shredding. I try to help customers understand how important every step is. Especially now, a lot of places have high turnover or they’re hiring new staff. I’ll step in when I can to remind the customer about the importance of training and act as a resource.”

Josh:We have a lot of materials and brochures to help customers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone at the facility understands the difference between types of waste and how to package it. For example, one customer called for a sharps pickup, and the entire 28-gallon shipping box was filled to the top with loose, used sharps. The person packaging the waste didn’t realize that the sharps go into collection containers and the filled containers go into the shipping box. There was just a 5mm bag and cardboard box separating us from hundreds of used sharps!”

Medical waste generators have cradle-to-grave responsibility for the wastes generated at their facilities. The regulations are designed to protect patients, staff, waste haulers, treatment facility workers, the public, and the environment.

It’s essential for staff to receive training on how to properly package regulated medical and sharps waste so that it can be transported and treated safely.

Your Time Is Valuable, So We Take Our Schedules Seriously

A typical driver’s day may include dozens of stops and last 12 hours. Scheduled pickup times help our drivers plan and provide better customer service. We understand that your staffers are busy juggling multiple tasks – and all of them are important! Even minor delays can disrupt everyone’s schedule, so our drivers urge customers to have the waste packaged, labeled, and ready for pickup.

Josh:  “I sometimes have up to 22 stops a day, so I try to stay on schedule. Some things we can’t control, like weather or traffic tie-ups, but sometimes I’m delayed because a previous customer didn’t have the pickup ready to go. We’re always prepared to help our customers, and we need them to be ready and help us keep our day moving.

Pandemic precautions greatly increased the size of some pickups. Instead of one box, we might get 20 boxes because of the COVID spike in testing.”

Albert: “Before COVID, keeping to the schedule was easy-peasy – just walk in, say hello, pick up the boxes, and I was gone. But now, so much has changed. In many places, we need to arrive at a designated time so we can fill out health forms, answer questions, get our temperature taken…all that before we can even gain access to service the account. What used to be a 10-minute stop can take three times as long, and soon an 8-hour day turns into a 14-hour day.”

Generators Must Package Their Own Wastes

Although our drivers want to help customers as much as possible, there are regulatory limitations. They are there to pick up packaged wastes; it’s literally all the laws allow them to do. Sharps offers customers posters with step-by-step instructions for packaging their medical waste transport box or container.

Josh: “Some customers don’t understand they have to package all waste. The wording on the shipping manifest says that the generator takes responsibility for the proper packaging and labeling of wastes. We can’t do that for them.”

Albert:  “I want to help customers as much as I can, but there are things I’m just not allowed to do. I can’t help you package waste, but I can walk you through your facility and show you what you need to do. I can’t touch your waste, only move the boxes. I don’t have the PPE needed to handle waste directly. Imagine if I were to try it at a pediatric facility and pick up a virus. I could spread that to the next stop at a dentist’s office, at an assisted living facility, you get the idea.

The customer boxes up the waste. I wear gloves when I handle the boxes and wash my hands after removing the gloves. It helps protect me, the next customer, warehouse drivers, and everyone down the line.”

We Take More Than Sharps

Albert:Sharps is in our name, but it’s not the only thing we do. With some newer customers, I’ll go inside for the pickup, but the person says they don’t have anything. Then I get called back for another pickup and find out that they did have some used gauze and biohazardous stuff. When I asked one customer why they didn’t give it to me before, they said that, since I said I was with ‘Sharps Compliance,’ they thought I only took sharps.”

Sharps Compliance is a full-service medical, pharmaceutical, and hazardous waste disposal company. Yes, we do take more than just sharps – a lot more! In some markets, we can even help customers with their secure document shredding and disposal needs.

We’re Proud of The Work We Do for Sharps Compliance

Although we didn’t ask our drivers to give us a shout-out, it was great to hear that they’re proud of their work and the opportunities they have within the company.

Josh: “I love not being in an office all day and being able to travel and see different towns, but I like working for Sharps in particular because I know that I’m contributing to a good cause. I’m helping protect the public and the environment. What I do every day is helping society.”

Albert:  “You wouldn’t believe the support I get from upper management. I’ve worked at some places where I was continually questioned and micromanaged. But management here trusts that I’m making the right decisions. I’m not just a number here. I’ve played sports all my life, and I like being part of a team – and that’s what we are here at Sharps.”

There Really Is a Sharps Compliance Advantage

Both drivers noted how surprised some new customers were when they saw the level of service they get from Sharps Compliance compared to “some of the other guys out there.”

Would you like to learn more about the Sharps Compliance Advantage?

Contact us online or call 800.772.5657 to learn more about our environmentally sustainable, regulatory-compliant solutions for your medical waste disposal needs. We can help you create a custom waste disposal solution that meets your facility’s individual needs and your budget.

Wanda Voigt holds a BA in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University and a BBA in Business Management from Texas A&M University. In Fall 2021, Wanda will begin her Master Jurisprudence in Health Law and Policy at Texas A&M University. Wanda has over 20 years of clinical practice in both hospital and private practice practicing in various specialties.

As the Director of Regulatory Compliance, Wanda assists Sharps’ customers in evaluating current federal and state-specific medical and pharmaceutical waste regulations, implementing compliant regulated medical and pharmaceutical waste management programs and processes, and developing training programs for both internal and external customers.

published in Medical Waste