January 27, 2010 | | Comments 2
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Absent regulations, it’s up to hospitals to determine trash compactor safeguards

The safety of operating trash compactors and locking them when not in use is yet another opportunity for a risk assessment.

Strictly speaking, there are no specific regulatory or code requirements for trash compactors in healthcare organizations. But we have learned over the years that the practical application of best practices, in the form of standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute, as surveyable requirements has become quite widespread.

Check out this OSHA interpretation letter regarding some specifics about compactors and worker safety.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the risks associated with the operation of compactors are eliminated or minimized to the extent possible. This idea of minimizing risks is further outlined by The Joint Commission’s environment of care standards, notably in EC.02.01.01, EP 3.

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Filed Under: Environment of careOSHA

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Scott Wallask About the Author: Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center (www.hospitalsafetycenter.com) and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at swallask@hcpro.com.

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  1. The government should make a law for these machines because they can be dangerous if not used right. In addition, a trash compactor operator must be aware of its hazardous property so that certain safety guidelines can be made.

  2. Thank you for such a resourceful blog. I do have a question. I am trying to track down a TJC standard that speaks to keys being left in a trash compactor. My staff is arguing that they should be allowed to leave themin since we have a gate blocking access. During a survey years ago the TJC stated that keys are not to be left in it. Like many other questions I have for the TJC, I cannot find a quick and easy link to the information on their website. Any help is greatly appreciated.
    Thank You

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