We at the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum and at Blenkharn Environmental have always promoted the use of cable ties to fasten clinical and other healthcare waste sacks.
Toothed or serrated tags make certain that a the gathered neck of a waste sack or bag is held firmly without damage, though most people will find that the smooth tags of ties work equally well and do not slip provided the sack is not overfilled.
This is always preferable to tying the neck in a ‘bunny ears’ knot which requires some compression by – hopefully – gloved hands and too often by unprotected forearms also.
Since waste tracking is important, to provide feedback in the event of any problems, and for the increasingly popular unit charging, an effective identification system per sack can be invaluable. This allows unit or ward-by-ward charging, and effective measurement of waste outputs by location and/or type, providing information that can be invaluable in resource planning.
RFID devices can be attached to bulk containers but in many locations these may be shared between users and this approach lacks detail and specificity and can fail to provide the required information.
Step in the cable tie. We have been promoting it – without any commercial link or undertaking as this is the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum – for a long time. It’s just a good idea.
One company is now marketing numbered cable or sack ties specifically for use with clinical wastes. In an array of colour codes and overprinted with the producer (Trust) name and a unique sequential numeric codes, and complimented by a software suite to permit allocation and tracking of numbered tags, the system seems [almost] ideal.
Better still is the use of tags with an additional machine readable barcode print which may appear along the loose end of the tag or on a flattened extension. Electrical suppliers and asset management service providers use them. So why not for clinical wastes?
Such a system provides a better closure suitable also for tracking of sharps containers, with a simple and straightforward tracking system that can be enhanced with machine readability using a simple handheld barcode reader. This might be used to trace wastes across a single site, or by roundsmen collecting smalls from multiple sites, where uplift and recording can be made far more efficient and speedy.