Managing office biomedical waste

Biomedical waste makes up a small part of health care waste but requires special disposal procedures because of the:

  • Risks of transmitting communicable diseases.
  • Impact upon the environment.

Physician employers are legally responsible for the general protection of workers (Regulation, s. 13) when assessing and controlling workplace hazards such as harmful substances. Are you an employer? Alberta legislation defines an employer as anyone who is self-employed or who employs one or more workers.

Your legal requirements

Harmful substances

You will need to establish procedures to minimize exposure and educate workers about health hazards caused by exposure (OHS Regulation, s. 15[3]).

Biohazardous material

Biohazardous material is an organism that may cause disease in humans. This includes risk groups two, three or four pathogens as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada:
Review the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act — Schedules 2-4 >> 

For these pathogens, the procedures must be:

  • In writing.
  • Available to workers at the work site.

The procedures need to cover the following topics:

  • storage
  • handling
  • use
  • disposal
  • post-exposure management

Health care setting or industry with biological hazards

You must comply with provisions related to sharps (Occupational Health and Safety Code, part 35): 
Read the Occupational Health and Safety Code, part 35 >> 

Find guidelines

The following guidelines are for disposing of biomedical waste and for general infection control in your office and workplace health and safety.

Disposing of biomedical waste

  • Disposal method or type of waste allowed: Contact the local municipality directly. Waste bylaws and class of waste facilities differ from community to community.
  • Guidelines and recommended practices: Contact Alberta Health Services (environmental public health).

The two publications below give you guidelines about managing this kind of waste:

General infection control in your office

Visit the CPSA Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) web pages >> 

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.