Safe handling of Clinical Waste.

The handling and disposal of waste is covered by a lot of legislation. Fortunately, you do not need to know about this to do your job. But you do need to know about and follow your organisation’s policies and procedures. This will make sure you do not break the law.

As a care and support worker, you will need to follow different procedures for dealing with waste depending on:

·         Where you are working.

·         The type of waste you are dealing with.

This should all be in your company’s policies, procedures, and risk assessments.

Be safe!


Wear your PPE and follow your policies and procedures.

You might hear the following terms when talking about waste…

Offensive waste: Urine, faeces, vomit, and sputum.

Clinical waste: offensive waste or other bodily fluids which pose or may pose a risk of infection.

This means the individual has or is highly likely to have an infectious disease.

Waste can be classified as:

Hazardous waste: is likely to cause harm through infection, chemical or physical injury.

Non-Hazardous waste: is unlikely to cause harm.

Household waste
BLACK BAGS Should contain mixed waste which requires disposal by landfill. For example, food packaging, tissues, disposable cups and drinks cans, paper, sandwich wrappers, flowers. Although some of this could be recycled depending on the collection service available.
Offensive waste
YELLOW & BLACK BAGS Should contain offensive but non-hazardous waste. For example, colostomy bags, incontinence bags, nappies and wipes, gloves, disposable garments contaminated with non-infectious bodily fluids.
Infectious Waste
ORANGE BAGS should contain clinical infectious waste with no chemicals or pharmaceuticals. This waste can be treated to make it safe before disposal or alternatively it can be incinerated. Examples include wipes, gloves, dressings, bandages, and aprons which are contaminated with potentially infected clinical waste.
YELLOW BAGS Should contain hazardous infectious clinical waste which are chemically contaminated. You must only put waste items that are both infectious and chemically contaminated (for example, some samples and diagnostic kits) in the yellow bag waste stream.
RED BAGS And just because we are talking about Bags: Red Bags are not to contain any waste products this is for solid laundry only, Red bags can be put straight into the washing machine and there is a seam that will dissolve in the wash to clean the laundry, the reminisce of the bag will remain in the washing machine, do not forget to remove (wearing the correct PPE)
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Laundry procedures to prevent contamination.

Find out if your employer has a laundry policy. As well as these general principles, it will give guidance on where things are kept in your organisation.

  • Always wear your PPE when handling laundry, such as gloves and an apron.
  • Where laundry is sent to another department for processing, it should be separated into colour coded lined bags if available.
  • Soiled laundry should always be stored and washed separately. It should not be sorted into piles on the floor.
  • If the laundry is soiled with offensive waste, then use red soluble bags if they are available. These dissolve in the washing machine and reduce the chance of the soiled laundry contaminating anything else, for example, by dripping on the floor, touching your clothes, door frames or the laundry machine exterior.
  • Laundry bags should not be overfilled and should be properly sealed before transporting.
  • Soiled linen must be washed in an automatic washing machine at a temperature of at least 71 degrees C for a minimum of 3 minutes or 65 degrees C for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  • Laundry must be fully dried before re-use to assist in removing micro-organisms.


  • Contaminated bed linen, items of clothing with bodily fluids, cloths, and towels – launder at 60 degrees C or more with an active oxygen bleach-containing detergent.


  • For items which come into close and persistent contact with the body (for example, underwear) launder at 30 to 40 degrees C with an active oxygen bleach-containing detergent.
  • For items not in close and persistent contact with the body (for example, jackets, jumpers, skirts, and trousers) laundering at 30 degrees C with any formulated detergent should be sufficient.
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