Man with the mask is superman, not risking his life with an invisible virus. Mask has become a mandatory accessory to people across nations. Stepping out without mask is legally punishable in the current scenario. One of the preventive and protective measures to secure from communicable disease is to wear a mask.
Types of masks
Reusable – Standard cotton masks which can be used and washed with detergent and sundry for reuse.
Disposable mask – Masks which can be used once for a maximum of 6hrs (as per guidelines issued by MHA) should be disposed of in the dustbin.
Is the mask used and disposed by employees at work place should be considered as bio-medical waste?
As per Sec 2(f) of the bio-medical Waste Management rules 2016 Bio-Medical Waste means any waste which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunisation of human beings or animals or research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological or in health camps, including the categories mentioned in Schedule I
Though as per the above definition used mask by the general public does not fall under the definition of bio-medical waste, in view of the COVID outbreak which is highly communicable, individuals/employees may be potential carriers of the virus and can be asymptomatic. A used mask may carry germs which survive for a few hours and few days hence it is advisable to consider the used mask as bio-medical waste for the current scenario.
To identify separate bin for the collection of a used mask and dispose safely
Is the employer legally accountable if any employee found working without a mask?
How to collect the used mask?
Identify a separate bin with a closed lid to collect the used mask in a carry bag.
How to dispose of a used mask?
Seal the carry bag of the used mask and hand over to the nearest bio-medical waste treatment Operator and subject that bio-medical waste for incineration process or can hand over to the local bodies to dispose of in Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facilities
How to know the nearest bio-medical waste treatment, operator?
Approach the local authority (sanitary Inspector for the respective area) from Corporation office
How to ensure is the operator is authorised by the pollution control board authority?
The operator must possess authorisation in Form III issued as per rule 10 of The Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016
What is authorisation?
As per the definition of The Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 “Authorisation” means permission granted by the prescribed authority for the generation collection, reception, storage, transportation, treatment, processing, disposal or any other form of handling of bio-medical waste in accordance with these rules and guidelines issued by the Central Government or Central Pollution Control Board as the case may be
Has the Central Pollution Control Board issued any guidelines for disposing off masks?
Yes guidelines issued for Health Care facilities who are involved in treating COVID patients
Do commercial establishments and factories have to obtain authorisation under Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016?
Establishments which does not generate bio-medical waste other than used mask does not require to obtain authorisation.
How long this disposal method should be followed?
Till such further notification from the government
Wear Mask protect yourself and others stay safe
Author of this article
Aparajitha Corporate Services Private Limited
Disclaimer: “The article represents the opinions of the author and the author is solely responsible for the facts, cases and legal or otherwise reproduced in the article”