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Oregon State University

Handling Wastes with Hazards

Safety Instruction Number: 
Last Update: 
Mon, 07/20/2009


  • Waste materials generated from OSU operations may be hazardous to both employees and others who handle waste to ultimate disposal facility
  • Typical examples include material that is radioactive, flammable, reactive, toxic, corrosive, infectious or sharp
  • OSU policy requires hazardous wastes should be segregated and placed in appropriate waste containers
  • Lab and shop personnel are responsible to direct their waste to the correct disposal method
  • Follow these guidelines in handling potentially dangerous materials for disposal

Waste Pickup Request

Radioactive Waste

  • Radioactive waste material must be properly labeled, placed in special radioactive waste containers, and disposed of through EH&S
  • To prevent contamination, only laboratory workers and EH&S personnel should handle these containers
  • For more information contact Radiation Safety staff at 7-2227

Chemical Waste

  • Chemical waste should be disposed of through the program operated by EH&S.
  • Place empty rinsed chemical containers in a building dumpster or glass recycling bin
  • Hazard warning labels (e.g. flammable liquid) should be removed or completely obliterated from empty containers prior to disposal
  • Many laboratory chemicals are non-hazardous and can be safely disposed of in the normal trash. To avoid confusion, clearly label these containers "NON-HAZARDOUS" and put in a sealed secondary box prior to disposal. 

Infectious or Biohazardous Waste

  • Infectious or biohazardous waste must be incinerated, properly autoclaved, or chemically disinfected prior to disposal.
  • After disinfection, this material should be put in a sealed outside container and placed in the building dumpster unless it contains sharps, hazardous chemicals, or radioactive constituents
  • A label that clearly identifies the material as "STERILE" or "NON-INFECTIOUS" should be placed on the outside of the container or bag
  • Infectious waste autoclaves should be strictly monitored for correct operation


There is a distinction between "sharp objects" and "sharps"


  • Regulatory definition includes needles, scalpel blades, lancets, and syringes that have been removed from their original sterile containers
  • The definition DOES NOT exempt needles or syringes used for non-infectious materials
  • All sharps must be initially placed in puncture resistant "sharps" containers, and collected for incineration in a DEQ-permitted infectious waste incinerator
  • If needles or other sharps are found in the trash, laboratory personnel will be contacted to correct the hazard
  • EH&S coordinates the sharps disposal program

Sharp Objects

  • Other sharp objects, such as broken glass, can cause physical damage to an individual and have the potential for infection or poisoning if contaminated
  • Employees should watch for sharp objects and should never reach into a trash container to remove trash or compact it
  • Sharp objects should be placed in puncture resistant containers (cardboard box) before placing into the trash
  • Plastic bags full of trash should be carried away from the body