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Placement of Biohazard Waste Bins

Sometimes there are safety issues that do not have an associated regulation. In these cases, you simply have to use common sense and your professional opinion. This question applies to that principle.

Q: Do our red bins for biohazard waste need to be locked in a closet or is it OK to keep them behind a closed door that is not necessarily locked?

A: There is no specific OSHA regulation that requires medical waste to be locked in a closet, and in looking at states’ public health regulations, it appears that there is no specific requirement to keep medical waste in a locked closet on that count either. If there is a relationship with a local hospital, it may be worth checking with them to see if there is a specific requirement (if there is one anywhere, it would be in the state regulations as there are none at the national/federal level), but it looks like a closed door will suffice.

Now, to complicate things just a little bit, if you have clinic settings that provide care and services to at-risk populations like pediatric and/or behavioral health patients, then you might be better off locking the closet to ensure their safety. It’s definitely a judgment call, but there are certainly instances in which erring on the side of caution is more than appropriate.

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