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How to safely manage the waste bearing a risk of contagion

gestione sicurezza rifiuti smallThe directive 2008/98/EC on waste gives a wide definition on hazardous waste and it establishes the rules on how to safely handle it.
Starting from June 1st 2015 the annex III of the aforementioned directive has been replaced by the 2014/1357/EU regulation. The starting point of the new regulation is the identification of hazardous waste:
Waste can be categorized as hazardous when it has one or more of the fifteen hazardous properties established by annex III of the Directive and modified by the 2014/1357/EU regulation (risk categories from HP1 to HP15).
The Commission of the 18th December 2014 (ruling n. 955) has decided to update the European Catalogue for Waste adapting it to the technical and scientific progress and to the new legislation on chemical substances (CLP, Classification, Labeling and Packaging).
The catalogue lists waste by dividing it according to the general industrial processes or according to its type and distinguishes it in hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Dangerous waste is labelled with this symbol (*).

The classification is the basis to correctly handle waste from the moment of its creation to the collection and final disposal.
The waste handling is made of several procedures which are carried out on waste fields and these are: handling, transportation, temporary storage, landfill placing and handling. These procedures must be properly carried out in order to avoid risks for people, things, and the environment.
A thorough knowledge of the potential risks which may stem from waste handling operations allows to make the right decisions in order to safely carry out all the handling operations.
The first classification for waste divides it according to its origin, therefore it could be either urban or special waste and the second criterion to classify it is based on the level of riskiness it carries.
Sanitary waste belongs to the special waste category and it is disciplined by the Presidential Decree n. 254 of 15th July 2003 which divides it into contagious hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste.
The hazardous waste which can be contagious is characterized by the danger factor HP9 and it is disciplined by national legislation. This type of waste comes from places which are isolated from any kind of infection but they carry a risk of biological transmission either by air or because the waste comes from places where there are people suffering from highly contagious diseases.
The handling of the register to load and unload the waste and any fulfillment of the law will not be treated in this article which instead focuses on the safety of the operator in all the phases of the waste handling process.
The risk evaluation process starts with the analysis of the causes which may trigger the event:

  • a non-careful handling of the waste carried out without using any individual protection device.
  • the use of non-suitable containers either for their dimensions, resistance, waterproofing capacities, the way they can be closed or because of the application of unsuitable air-conditioning techniques.

The characteristics of the containers are defined by article 8 of the Presidential Decree 254/03:

  • the container which is in direct contact with the waste must be made of a one way package which can also be flexible and must carry this label: Dangerous and contagious sanitary waste and a symbol which indicates the biological risk.
  • the external container must be impact-resistant when it is moved around. Furthermore when it is transported it must be labelled by using a specific colour which makes it easy to distinguish it from the other types of packaging used for the other types of waste. This can be a single-use container or it can be a re-usable container, but it must be disinfected each time before usage and it must carry the label: Hazardous and contagious sanitary waste and a symbol indicating the biological risk.
  • the packaging for sharp waste must be a rigid disposable sting- proof packaging and it must carry the label: Hazardous sharp, stinging sanitary waste which can be contagious, placed in the second layer of the external rigid packaging.

All these precautions limit the contact with the operator who plays a central role in preventing accidents from happening. The use of personal protection devices and the use of carts to safely move the waste around are fundamental precautions to take in order to prevent accidents from happening.

During the waste disposal phase, it is also necessary:

  • to use a container equipped with a specific bag. The size of this container will be proportional to the average daily production of waste carrying contagious risk in order to avoid to keep it for a long time in an open container;
  • to collect all the waste into the container without squeezing it and therefore avoiding any kind of manipulation which can result in injuries;
  • to fill in the container without exceeding ¾ of its capacity avoiding any risk for the operators when it comes to closing and transporting it;
  • to fill in the container without exceeding the weight limit while dealing with heavy waste (e.g. bags containing liquids);
  • to close the bag with its specific band using single-use gloves without touching or squeezing its content. Close the outer container by following its contoured lines or by applying a cover according to the type of container;
  • to place a label on the container. This label must indicate the origin of the container, and the date when it was closed in order to easily track the container.

The storage phase is disciplined and it must take place in specific temporary deposits which may have specific characteristics in order to avoid any waste alteration. Furthermore the waste storage phase must be no longer than 5 days starting from the closing of the content.
By a synergic handling of the aforementioned phases it will be possible to significantly reduce any risk of personal or environmental contamination.



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