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Sharps Waste – Maximum Storage Times California

OSHA Review, Inc. has been receiving inquiries regarding sharps waste management, specifically what the maximum storage time is for sharps waste. For California dentists, the California Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA) allows small quantity generators to store sharps waste ready for disposal onsite for up to 30 days.

Prior to 2007, the requirement for containment and disposal of sharps waste stipulated that once a sharps container was “ready for disposal”, i.e. filled to the full-line, about ¾ full, then the sharps must be disposed of within seven days. During the 2005-2006 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1305 was enacted which extended the required storage limit for sharps waste for small quantity generators from seven days up to a maximum of 30 days from the time the container is ready for disposal. To summarize, the requirements for sharps waste are the following:

Storage – Sharps must be placed in a rigid puncture resistant container. When sealed the sharps, container must be leak-resistant and cannot be opened without great difficulty. Sharps containers must be labeled with the words “SHARPS WASTE” or “BIOHAZARD.”

Disposal – Containers must be replaced routinely and not overfilled (filled to fill-line or 75% of container capacity). The frequency for sharps disposal depends on the total amount of medical waste generated by the office. Assuming storage above 0˚C (32˚F)… If the office generates more than 20 pounds of total medical waste per month, the sharps containers must be picked up from the office within 7 days of closing the containers. If the office generates less than 20 pounds of medical waste, the sharps containers must be picked up within 30 days of closing the containers.

For more information, visits the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website, which states that for small quantity generators “sharps waste can be stored for 30 days, once the container is full.”

OSHA Review, Inc. a registered continuing education provider in the State of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and Cal/OSHA training. OSHA Review subscribers in California receive updated regulatory compliance and infection control training thorough our bi-monthly newsletter.

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