Safety Precautions and Legal Requirements for Transporting Cytotoxic Waste23 August 2023
Discover the essence of transporting cytotoxic waste properly and safely. Learn how it can prevent health risks and the primary ways to do it legally.
Cytotoxic waste is a waste material containing cytotoxic substances, which are chemicals that can kill or damage cancer cells. These substances are often used in medical settings like hospitals, clinics, and research laboratories for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
Various items and materials may come into contact with cytotoxic substances that are then categorised as cytotoxic waste. Some notable examples of cytotoxic waste include empty drug vials and containers, contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE), spill cleanup materials, infusion sets and tubing, contaminated sharps, and biological samples.
All these things can pose potential health risks to healthcare workers, waste management personnel, and the general public. Therefore, cytotoxic waste should be transported properly before they are disposed of. Some safety precautions and legal requirements regarding cytotoxic waste transport are as follows.
Hazardous Substances Regulations
Tons of legislation have been passed and implemented to regulate the safe transport and disposal of cytotoxic waste. These include Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011, and Navigation Act 2012. Now, regulations regarding waste and chemicals classify cytotoxic drugs and any waste generated as hazardous chemicals as they can cause harm to human health and the environment. And to avoid causing harm, various regulations should be followed as they already outline requirements for the packaging, labelling, and transportation of cytotoxic waste.
Packaging and Labelling
Cytotoxic waste must be properly packaged and labelled to ensure safe transportation. The waste should be placed in leak-proof containers that are strong enough to prevent breakage during transit. Each container must be labelled with the appropriate hazard symbols, warning signs, and identification information as per the Australian Dangerous Goods Code. One good example of a container that can be utilised for cytotoxic waste is a Sharpsafe container. This container is sustainable, safe, secure, autoclavable, durable, and compliant with standards.
Training and Certification
Any individuals involved in the transportation of cytotoxic waste must receive appropriate training on handling hazardous substances. Transporters should be certified and possess a valid Dangerous Goods Driver License, which is only issued after completing a specific training course. This license ensures they are knowledgeable about the proper handling procedures, emergency response protocols, and safety precautions when transporting cytotoxic waste.
Transport vehicles used for cytotoxic waste transportation should comply with relevant regulations. These regulations may include requirements for containment, segregation, and ventilation systems to prevent leaks, spills, or contamination. Vehicles must also be properly equipped with spill kits, PPE, and emergency response equipment.
Chain of Custody and Documentation
Maintaining a proper chain of custody is crucial when transporting cytotoxic waste. It includes documenting the waste’s origin, the transporter’s details, and the destination facility. Transporters should keep records of each shipment, which includes consignment notes, waste tracking forms, and any other documentation as per state or territory regulations.
Waste Disposal and Treatment
Transporters must ensure that cytotoxic waste is transported to authorised facilities for proper disposal or treatment. They should be aware of the specific disposal requirements in their state and comply with those regulations to ensure safe and proper handling of the waste.
Compliance with safety precautions and legal requirements for transporting cytotoxic waste is essential to minimise the risks associated with these hazardous materials. Healthcare facilities, waste management companies, and transporters should stay up to date with the latest regulations to ensure the safe and responsible transportation of cytotoxic waste in Australia.