Biomedical Waste Program
The objective of the biomedical waste program is to protect health care workers, environmental-service staff, waste haulers and the general public from risks associated with potentially infectious biomedical waste.
Both the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have responsibilities under this program. The Department of Environmental Protection has primary responsibility for biomedical waste incineration and final disposal. The Department of Health has primary authority and responsibility for facilities that generate, transport, store or treat biomedical waste through processes other than incineration.
When biomedical waste is disposed of improperly, it places health care workers, sanitation workers and the general public at risk for contracting dangerous diseases. Chapter 64E-16, F.A.C. requires health care professionals to ensure proper disposal of the biomedical waste that they generate. Biomedical waste generated by individuals in their own homes from use of syringes or diagnostic lancets also should be properly packaged and disposed. Complaints concerning biomedical waste are investigated by County Health Departments. Small amounts of improperly disposed biomedical waste are cleaned up under Florida Department of Health supervision. Emergency situations are referred to the Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Emergency Response at 850-245-2010.
The 1993 Florida Legislature provided funding for the Biomedical Waste Program, from the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund. Additional funding is provided through the annual permitting of facilities that generate at least 25 pounds of biomedical waste, in any 30-day period. Permitted facilities are inspected annually. Facilities that produce less than 25 pounds of biomedical waste in each 30-day period are exempt from permitting and are inspected every three years.
Department of Health oversight of biomedical waste management is conducted to assure proper identification, segregation, containment, storage and labeling of biomedical waste. The department also has established parameters for the safe treatment of biomedical waste.
Chapter 64E-16, F.A.C. requires biomedical waste facilities to provide training to personnel whose responsibilities include some aspect of managing biomedical waste. Such personnel must be trained prior to assuming any duties associated with biomedical waste and they must receive an annual refresher course. Training must detail the procedures included in the facilities written operating plan, as well as compliance with Chapter 64E-16, F.A.C.