October: GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND COMMON SENSE – CAN THEY CO-EXIST?

Last month we discussed government laws, regulations and ordinances that govern the day to day operations of a typical body art shop. We discussed the need for basic safety procedures that must exist in a body art shop to keep body art operators and customers safe. We also discussed how laws are enacted and the importance of government officials developing a working relationship with body art professionals in this law enactment process.

Twenty years ago, using body art professionals as consultants in law making was considered unacceptable and a direct insult to their intelligence. Government officials felt that body art shop owners were nowhere near qualified to assist in the law making process. Now, body art shop owners are actively involved in law making and work side by side with government officials to create a document that is easily understood, easily implemented and easily followed.

Even with body art professionals involved, ordinances can still get a bit vague and refer the reader to federal regulations, state regulations and other applicable laws without giving a specific answer. Let’s dissect some of these references and find out where to access other applicable laws. For instance, a typical government reference dealing with contaminated waste will state, “Red bags and sharps containers must then be disposed of by or delivered to an approved medical waste facility pursuant to but not limited to 29 CFR Part 1910.1030 and the state jurisdiction pertaining to solid waste management regulations promulgated by the particular state’s environment department or special waste regulating entity.”

An “approved medical waste facility” is defined as a facility that legally takes delivery of potentially infectious materials, hazardous waste, special waste and contaminated waste. Clients who use medical waste facilities typically include hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, dental offices, cremation facilities and any facility that uses syringes in the treatment of patients such as dialysis facilities and blood donation facilities. Body art facilities are now included as clients who occasionally must deliver certain types of waste to medical waste facilities.

Medical waste facilities are much different than residential trash collectors. Residential trash collectors pick up residential waste and deliver it to an approved landfill for proper burial. Medical waste facilities are equipped with special disposal equipment and highly specialized machinery approved by that particular state. Each state medical waste facility must adhere to federal government regulations and be inspected from the time they are built to the time they are in full operation. They typically have controlled flame combustion equipment and other incineration devices such as rotary kilns and liquid injection incinerators capable of thermally breaking down solid waste and rendering it harmless. The specialized combustion equipment typically reaches temperatures of over 3000-degrees Fahrenheit and permanently destroys toxic, organic compounds by breaking their bonds and reverting them to constituent elements (elements to live) thereby removing their toxicity. The leftover material, carbonized ash, is then delivered to a special waste landfill which receives only these types of special waste.

Ordinances around the country can also be vague on identifying the length of time contaminated waste such as sharps and red bags can be stored on site. For instance, the federal law that regulates on site storage of contaminated waste states, “Storage of contaminated waste on site shall not exceed the period specified by the state’s environment department or similar special waste regulating entity.” The reason this reference is vague and details are not included in the wording of an ordinance is because each state can vary on the length of time. Federal laws refer to discarding sharps and blood-soaked material “as soon as feasible” but state laws can determine a safe length of time based on scientific safety data regarding the potential risk of extended hazardous waste storage. Typically, 45 days is the upper limit on the shelf life of contaminated waste. In circumstances where a limited amount of procedures are conducted in a body art shop and only small amounts of sharps are sitting in sharps containers, the 45 day maximum shelf life clock does not start ticking until the sharps container is 2/3’s full. Once it is 2/3’s full, a typical body art shop has 45 days of on-site storage until the body art shop is required to arrange a special hazardous waste pick up from or delivery to an approved medical waste facility of your choice. Some medical waste facilities allow body art shops to deliver their hazardous waste in person to the facility. They will be very specific on how the hazardous waste can be delivered to the facility. Check with the particular special waste facility on the requirements on personal delivery to their site. Although most medical waste facilities allow personal delivery to their facilities, some do not.

Next month, we will discuss where to locate a very simple version of the Code of Federal Regulations for use when body art shop owners decide to start a business and simplify their ordinances.

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