The Safe Handling of Infected or Soiled Linen and Clinical Waste

What is ‘Clinical Waste’

Clinical waste is produced from health and social care. Clinical waste can be either hazardous (waste that poses or may pose a risk of infection for example, pads and dressings) or non-hazardous (which is not infectious waste). Waste containers should be handled carefully to avoid contamination. Where appropriate you should use PPE to protect you from contamination and infection. It is placed in either yellow or orange plastic sacks. It should be kept separate from other waste and disposed of using specialist facilities

Disposal of Clinical Waste

Disposal of clinical waste is covered by the Environmental Protection Act (1990). Waste, including all personal protective equipment used, should be disposed of using the correct bags, as follows:

  • Black plastic bags – normal household waste, paper towels and double-wrapped sanitary and incontinence products (where there is no known infection)
  • Yellow plastic bags – waste that may contain body fluids e.g. used gloves, aprons and wound dressings (can be ordered from the Council, who will also be able to inform you of the weekly collection day. This is detailed in the Support Plan)
  • Brown cardboard box – aerosols and glassware
  • Yellow plastic sharps box – used needles (must not be discarded with normal household rubbish)

Don’t forget to wash hands after disposing of any waste

Use to answer question 15.1e of the Care Certificate

Guidelines for the Safe Disposal of Sharps

The following guidelines in relation to sharps should be followed:

  • They must be disposed of at the point of use into an approved container
  • All sharps bins should have the name of the person who assembled it and the date of assembly on the label. The same applies for the person closing the bin
  • Do not fill bins past the ‘full’ line marked on the bin. Sharps can fall out and cause injury
  • Use the temporary closure mechanism on the top of the bin when it is not being used, to prevent spillages if the bin is toppled over
  • Always keep bins above floor level to prevent children from reaching them
  • Store bins securely out of sight and reach of other people who may be present. If workers are transporting sharps by car, these should be kept in the car boot
  • Do not pass sharps from one hand to the other
  • Do not handle sharps more than is essential
  • Do not put protective covering back on needles
  • Do not bend or break needles
  • Do not separate needles or syringes before disposal.

Soiled Linen

Linen that comes into contact with workers or individuals can become contaminated with harmful micro-organisms and body fluids. Linen refers to anything that is made of cloth including bedding, towels and clothing. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn when handling infected linen as it can transfer pathogens to skin and clothing. All infected linen (that is linen that is contaminated with body fluids) must be washed separately to other items.

  • Clothing can be decontaminated in a 40°C- 50°C wash followed by tumble-drying or hot ironing
  • Bedding and towels should be washed in a hot wash to ensure that bacteria are killed
  • Laundry should be moved to the washing area in sealed, colour coded bags
  • When supporting an individual in their own home you should ask permission to wash infected linen immediately

Once linen has been decontaminated it must be stored separately from contaminated linen to prevent cross-contamination. You must always follow your agreed ways of working (including dignity code, essence of care and compassion). If you have any questions about these you should consult your line manager.

Use to answer question 15.1e of the Care Certificate

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