Why is it necessary to use “red bags” for biohazardous waste?
Red bags must be used for all bio hazardous waste in order to comply with state and federal laws due to their proprietary makeup insuring they are a.) liquid proof and b.) strong enough to preclude tears or bursting of the bags under pressure and piercing from sharps (needles et al).
All generators of biohazardous waste are responsible for providing their own red bags. The disposal companies contracted by the generators usually include these bags with their services. It must be stressed that all containers meant for bio hazardous waste must be lined with red bags. All bags and biohazardous containers must be clearly and visually labeled to alert all handlers of their content.
Specifically, all handlers of red bags and containers must wear the proper protection which include safety goggles, gloves and lab coats. These rules were established for the protection of the handler to insure their well being and avoid contamination associated with the risk of the waste itself.
Red bags are not reusable. Biohazardous containers, on the other hand, can be used multiple times provided proper sterilization is completed after each use. This sterilization process falls on the generators of the waste and should be done when the containers are dirty or if a leak has incurred. Since the red bags do not protect the lids of the biohazard containers, it is imperative to sanitize them each and every time waste is transferred.
Biohazardous red bags do not specifically have to be the color red. There are many different reasons why red became the standard color used by most generators. The most important property needed for this type of disposal is the biohazard symbol prominently displayed on the bag itself. Since hospitals use many different color containers to easily identify their contents. The color red has commonly been associated with “danger” and so it was adopted as the standard color for biohazardous waste.
In a nutshell, research is the best way to insure that you are complying with the guidelines necessary for proper use and disposal of red bags. One such resource for medical waste questions can be found on this site; https://www.osha.gov/law-regs.html. Knowledge is the key to proper disposal in regard to red bag usage so use it wisely.