Guide to Wyoming Medical Waste Regulations
As with every other state in the country, Wyoming provides its own regulations and definitions of medical waste streams and how to handle them. These regulations are applicable to hospitals, outpatient treatment centers, cancer clinics, and anywhere that a medical procedure or healthcare service is provided. No matter where you work or practice in the medical care field in Wyoming, the state mandates a number of regulations for medical waste disposal.
That said, the regulations of the federal government must also be followed when it comes to healthcare waste management and disposal processes. As such, both federal and state guidelines must be followed to maintain compliance. You can’t choose one over the other. In fact, in many cases, state laws regarding medical waste disposal processes are stricter than those of the federal government.
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Who’s in charge of medical waste disposal in Wyoming?
The primary agency in charge of medical waste disposal in Wyoming is the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ. This regulatory agency incorporates federal guidelines in the handling, storage, and disposal of regulated andhazardous waste.
Wyoming’s DEQ provides information on their governmental website regarding solid waste and hazardous waste. In a nutshell, Wyoming requires that all solid waste has to be treated, recycled, or disposed of at a designated facility that has been approved not only by the Solid and Hazardous Waste Division (SHWD), but by local governmental jurisdictions where such facilities are located.
That said, specific guidance regarding regulations for handling, treatment, and disposal of potentially infectious medical waste in the state of Wyoming is vague. Wyoming is among the few states that don’t provide specific definitions for different types of solid waste, including infectious waste.
In fact, Chapter 1, Section 1 of the Solid Waste Rule exempts “medical waste storage units, incinerators, autoclaves, or other treatment devices, used to store or treat only medical wastes which are generated by the owner or operator of the medical facility or by doctors’ offices, medical clinics, dental offices and other medical waste generators within the county or local area where the medical waste storage units, incinerators, autoclaves, or other treatment devices are located.”
However, guidance provided by the SHWD does provide additional information. For example, the SHWD states that hospital-generated infectious waste “should be rendered non-infectious by incineration, autoclaving, or other acceptable treatment method. Medical waste generated by clinical laboratories, doctors’ offices, veterinary clinics, nursing homes, emergency care facilities or other medical facilities can be disposed at landfills. Any body parts generated at these facilities should be incinerated prior to disposal.”
Such wording can cause confusion.
Additional guidance is also provided, such as that sharps should be contained in rigid, properly identified containers, and that medical waste be placed in red bags for handler safety and avoidance of potential exposures. However, the solid waste rule also recommends that medical waste generators contact local refuse collection authorities as well as landfill operators to let them know that infectious wastes are being handled.
As such, the medical waste generator may be required to transport the red bag waste to a central collection point or to a landfill. Special arrangements might also be made for a city collection truck to pick up the red bag wastes on a periodic basis or as needed. As such, it is highly recommended that all healthcare waste generators seek information from a reputable and knowledgeable medical and hazardous waste management company within the state of Wyoming for further details and guidance.
Maintaining compliance in Wyoming
Hazardous waste storage facility rules can be found under Wyoming’s Hazardous Waste Rules and Regulations (HWRR) Chapter 1 §264. All healthcare facilities should be aware that Wyoming combines (by reference) federal hazardous waste storage rules for permitted and temporary status treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
The state of Wyoming also follows federal requirements that suggest medical waste generators can accumulate hazardous waste on-site without a permit by referencing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, which went into effect in the state in 2019.
The Wyoming DEQ’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Division also publishes a document regarding hazardous waste management. It should be noted that throughout the document that Title 40 of Code of Federal Regulations (40 C.F.R.) is frequently referenced. These regulations are those of the Federal EPA and provide rules that all states must abide by. Refer to 40 CFR Part 260 for information on Hazardous Waste Management System. Identification and listing of hazardous wastes are found in 40 CFR Part 261. Part 270 provides specific information regarding approved state hazardous waste management programs – Wyoming’s can be found under Subpart ZZ.
Under Subpart ZZ, §272.2551 (Wyoming State-Administered Program: Final Authorization) the state of Wyoming has been given final approval and authorization to administer and enforce hazardous waste management laws as provided by the EPA. As such, the state of Wyoming is primarily responsible for enforcing its hazardous waste management program. However, the EPA maintains their authority to inspect or otherwise enforce statutory and regulatory provisions. This is over and above provisions of the state.
Therefore, non-compliance not only affects state regulatory expectations, but those of the federal government. And that applies to fines and penalties as well. The Wyoming DEQ’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Division makes available the document defining hazardous waste management processes. The entirety of Chapter 1 repeatedly refers to title 40 CFR in regards to definitions and throughout its Part 260 (Hazardous Waste Management System).
As an example, Part 261 (Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste) and Part 262 (Standards Applicable to the Generators of Hazardous Waste) contain language and definitions that repeatedly refer back to various parts and sections of Title 40 CFR. As such, it is highly recommended that healthcare waste generators or those facilities that produce hazardous waste become familiar with the EPA’s Title 40 CFR.
Maintaining compliance in the state of Wyoming can be troublesome for healthcare waste generators, especially in regard to finding specific details on how to properly segregate, store, package, label, and dispose of medical waste streams. Due to this, it is recommended once more that all facility management teams be familiar with recommendations found in Title 40 CFR. Generators are also encouraged to address specific queries regarding hazardous waste rules to the Wyoming Transportation Department, which regulates hazardous wastes under the Wyoming State Hazardous Waste Rules and Regulations Program.
Daniels Health Provides Guidance
There is no doubt that complying with federal and state guidelines in regard to solid waste and hazardous waste disposal processes is essential for the protection of healthcare providers, the general public, and the environment. We also understand that some state guidelines and rules are not as clear as others in that it can be confusing to read through dozens of pages of regulatory content to determine the answer to a question.
With decades of experience in healthcare waste management processes and procedures, we provide ample resources, guidance, products, and services to medical and healthcare providers in the state of Wyoming and throughout the country. For additional information regarding our resources and waste management procedures, call a Daniels Health representative today.