There are two colours dedicated to clinical waste in the Department of Health’s colour code for best practice waste disposal. However, as these waste streams are so similar it’s easy to get them confused. But it’s important that you ensure you know the differences between them so that all waste can be disposed of properly.
The difference between the two waste streams
The main difference between these two waste streams is the method in which they have to be destroyed.
Orange waste encapsulates any clinical items that can be treated prior to disposal to make them safe. This waste can also be incinerated. Orange waste includes any used wipes, gloves and aprons.
On the other hand, items that are counted as clinical, highly infectious yellow waste, must be incinerated. This includes gloves and aprons that have been used when treating someone you either suspect or know to be carrying an infectious disease.
What are the dangers of clinical waste?
Clinical waste can lead to the spread of diseases. Blood, saliva or any other bodily fluids that are on these items can hold a multitude of pathogens. This includes dangerous bloodborne diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
Keeping these pathogens contained is essential, especially as even the smallest actions could lead to accidental infection. For example, imagine you unintentionally disposed of a pair of blood covered gloves in municipal waste. If this blood contained an infectious disease, this could leave a number of people vulnerable. Furthermore, these blood covered items will eventually up in a landfill. Here they could come into contact with people and animals, potentially spreading the disease further.
Another way to remember
If your employees are unsure of how to segregate clinical waste, you can help them remember in a fun way. Initial Medical has especially created Colour Coding Characters that are personifications of every waste stream, so that people can remember the protocols more clearly.
Each of these characters is the same colour as their respective waste stream, and their illustrations hold clues to the type of waste that fall under each category. You can contact Initial Medical to receive your free Colour Code Character posters on the website.
For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/healthcare-waste or Tel: 0870 850 4045