To stay compliant with state and federal regulations around medical waste disposal handling, it’s important to properly package your waste.

There are several federal agencies you should be aware of:

  • The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) specifies how medical waste should be handled to keep associates safe and free from harm.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) specifies how medical waste should be packaged to ensure it is safely transported over our roads and highways.

Combined, these two bodies’ regulations will provide you with what type of packaging is required, what should be visible on the exterior of the package, how to segregate your waste properly, how to properly pack your regulated medical waste, and how to seal each package and store for transport.

This article addresses proper packaging and labeling.

Proper Packaging for Medical Waste Disposal

Corrugated Box

Your medical waste disposal transporter should be providing you with a properly labeled corrugated box for the transport and disposal of regulated medical waste. The corrugated box should be considered rigid and of sufficient strength (some states will even specify the strength) and should be classified as a “PG II container.”

Box Wording/Signage

The box should have the proper wording and signage on the outside, which is not only required by the DOT but equally importantly lets your staff know what is in the box.

A regulated medical waste disposal transport container must contain the following:

  • A biohazard symbol
  • The word “Biohazard”
  • The ID number – UN 3291 (this identifies the waste as “medical or clinical”)
  • A description – Regulated Medical Waste
  • Orientation arrows (up/down)

cardboard_bin-233x300 Proper Packaging for Medical Waste Disposal & Transport

The Plastic Bag

The plastic bag used inside the container as a liner must be red in color (some state approve orange) and have sufficient strength to prevent tearing.  Some states will specify that the biohazard symbol must be printed on the exterior of each bag.

polyethylenebags-150x150 Proper Packaging for Medical Waste Disposal & Transport

Labeling Your Box

An identification label must be placed on each container to prepare it for transport.  This label should identify:

  • The generator’s name, address and phone number
  • The transporter’s name, address and phone number
  • The date that the container schedule for pick up
  • Some states require the date that the container was closed – these states specify that the waste must transported from the facility a certain number of days after closure

The labels we use at ImageFIRST are also barcoded, to allow us to quickly scan and easily track each container of waste, as it moves from the generator to final disposal, giving medical facilities that extra peace of mind.

MWBoxes-150x150 Proper Packaging for Medical Waste Disposal & Transport


As you store your waste prior to transport, keep it in a place safely away from your patients and the public.  It should be kept in an area that is out of the weather and free from insects and rodents.

If your containers of medical waste disposal are filling up your storage area or creating an odor, we recommend adjusting your pick up schedule to help reduce the amount of containers that you need to store.

Watching Out For Leaks

It’s imperative that no liquids leak from the bag/corrugated box.  Be sure that all liquids that are disposed of are properly stoppered.  If a box become damp or leaks prior to transport, it cannot be transported and the entire box must be repacked in a new container.  If you regularly dispose of liquids, consider using two bags (double bag the box) to help prevent leakage.


Staying compliant with medical waste disposal handling requires adherence of OSHA and DOT regulations. Proper packaging, signage, storage and labeling for transport will keep you compliant and staff and patients safe. The right disposal and transporter partner can provide all you need and be a great resource.