Monday, 7 February 2011

Revised clinical laboratory waste management guideline

The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) recently published a revised document, Clinical Laboratory Waste Management; Approved Guideline-Third Edition (GP05-A3), which was written for use by laboratory managers and is intended to provide approaches to controlling laboratory-generated hazardous and nonhazardous waste. This revision replaces the 2002 publication of GP05-A2.

The chairholder of the subcommittee that developed the document, Terry Jo Gile, MT(ASCP), MA Ed, Safety Lady LLC, said, "Each section was carefully reviewed by committee members for accuracy and relevance. The guideline was revised to align with the quality management system approach described in other CLSI documents. The document provides information on all types of waste generated by the laboratory, including chemical, infectious, radioactive, sharps, multihazardous, and other solid waste. It also includes sections on waste management planning, pollution prevention, waste minimization, recycling, and staff education."

In this edition, emphasis is placed on methods for avoiding waste generation (source reduction), and reducing the volume and toxicity of unavoidable wastes (waste minimization). Options for handling, packaging, labeling, storing, recycling, transporting, treating, and disposing of each type of waste are also described. A brief summary of the relevant US federal regulations and laws is included. Although this document will serve as a useful resource for a wider audience, it is based on US regulations and is intended for use primarily in the United States.

According to Gile, important revisions include "a list of attributes a laboratory should look for in a waste hauler, and an expanded section on multihazardous waste." Gile adds, "There is also an updated waste management audit checklist."

This guideline will provide the basis for comprehensive waste management programs for laboratories. It includes some legislative and regulatory background to assist US users in understanding specific disposal requirements and recommendations. It will also help users in other countries understand the regulatory environment that determines laboratory operations in the United States.

CLSI is a volunteer-driven, membership-supported, nonprofit organization dedicated to developing standards and guidelines for the health care and medical testing community through a consensus process that balances the perspectives of industry, government, and the health care professions.