Written by Megan Chamberlain
17 Dec 2020

5 Naughty List Medical Waste Handling Habits

Similarly to all of us, 2020 has thrown a wrench in Santa's normal operations. Not only is he busy making sure the Elves are wearing appropriate PPE - he has to now work in extra delivery time to make sure he's sanitizing his sleigh between each house on Christmas Eve! We volunteered to help out Kris Kringle this year by spreading the word on what healthcare workers can do to not end up on the Medical Waste Handling Naughty List.

Oh yeah, there's a whole other list! You didn't think Santa had just the general one, did you? The man tracks everything. A bit creepy if you ask us...

And you may be wondering, why does Santa care if you are handling waste safely? Well, he needs you and your colleagues to be as safe as possible so he can maximize the cookies and milk left out - of course. 

We, on the other hand, just want to live up to our mission of Making Healthcare Safer. So without further ado:

The 5 habits that will land you on the Medical Waste Handling Naughty List are:

01 / Touching waste without gloves

02 / Pushing waste down into a container with your hands

03 / Placing red bag medical waste and clear bag waste into the same container

04 / Placing items on top of or above sharps containers (like phones, or instruments)

05 / Placing sharp objects anywhere besides a sharps container

Now, if you read through that list and thought to yourself, "Oh no, I'm getting a lump of coal." Don't worry! There's still a few days before Christmas and we have the tips to help you turn this year around. And if you don't celebrate Christmas - no worries. Safety is always in season for everyone!

Now let's break down the healthcare waste handling habits one by one and review what you need to do to end up on the "Nice List."

Touching Waste Without Gloves

Naughty Habit: Touching waste without gloves

This puts you at infection risk. You may then spread that risk around the clinical environment, which endangers everyone. Medical waste is considered hazardous for a reason!

Nice Habit: Always wearing gloves when handling medical waste and changing or disposing of gloves before leaving the area of waste handling.

Pushing Waste down a container with your hands 

Naughty habit: Pushing waste down into a container with your hands

This creates a large risk for cross-contamination or injury to your hands!

Nice Habit: Proceed pushing down waste cautiously and safely. Under no circumstances should you use your hand! This is one of the most simple ways to protect yourself from injury or infection.


Learn about the hazard of container overfill

Placing RMW and clear bag waste into the same container

Naughty habit: Placing red bag medical waste (i.g. saturated gauze) and clear bag waste (coffee cups) into the same container. This creates improper waste segregation that not only adds unnecessary risk to anyone handling the waste, but could inflate your costs of disposal.

Nice Habit: Use separate carts/containers for biohazardous waste and clear/general waste. Your red bag waste container should be labelled biohazard - this will increase the likelihood of proper waste segregation and handling.

Placing items on top of or above sharps containers

Naughty habit: Placing items like phones, pens, or medical instruments on top or above sharps containers. Items can fall into biohazard bins by accident and can (and should) only be retrieved manually by your waste management partner.

Nice Habit: Stick to placing items on counters in patient rooms and clinical environments. Everything has a place for a reason - as only biohazard waste goes in the biohazard bin.

Placing sharp objects anywhere besides a sharps container

Naughty habit: Placing sharps anywhere but in a sharps container

Nice Habit: Even if your sharps container is at capacity and locked out of use, find an alternate container. Never leave a sharp on the counter, table, or bed in a patient room. Always monitor the full level of the sharps containers and if necessary ask for a container exchange if you are close to reaching the fill level.


And there you have it - 5 habits you can implement to ensure you and your staff are handling waste as safely as possible

Waste Management Safety is Always in Season

With over 30 years of experience, Daniels Health is a year-round advocate for safe healthcare waste practices. We understand that clinicians and EVS often face a fast-paced environment - which is why we partner with you to provide innovative containers and educational resources to make medical waste management easy. If you want to get a jump on your "Nice List" activities for 2021 by exploring our clinically-designed waste bins, reach out to us today.


Header Style: 
Megan Chamberlain

Megan Chamberlain

Content Strategist

With a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things and a quick wit, Megan was the recipient of the Daniels Pun-Master Award 2017 and is the go-to for fun analogies to explain healthcare waste.