The Do’s and Don’ts of Biological Waste Disposal for Dental Offices
The handling of biological waste in your dental office may not seem like it should be a priority for you, but it is to a number of different government agencies for various reasons. In order to stay out of trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and your local authorities, follow these basic rules for biological waste disposal for dental offices:
- Do educate yourself and your employees on the rules and regulations surrounding biological waste and its correct handling and disposal processes.
- Do work with a licensed and insured medical waste disposal company that is familiar with the specific needs of a dental office.
- Do ensure that any plan devised for the management of biological waste inside of your dental office is specific to the needs of your facility.
- Do place sharps containers in areas that are easily accessible to dental care providers as they work with patients.
- Do make sure that all employees in your office are able to identify and segregate medical waste from common trash.
While that may all seem simple enough, you will quickly see that proper biological waste management is a lot more about what you should NOT do:
- Don’t allow your medical waste to get mixed in with your regular trash.
- Don’t place any sharps, including metal wires used for braces, inside of a plastic bag that can be punctured.
- Don’t forget to label all biological waste containers with your office name, address and telephone number.
- Don’t allow biological waste to be emptied into a container that has not been labeled for its collection.
- Don’t let biological waste be put inside of a reusable container loosely. Always ensure that it is secured inside of a red bag or sharps container first.
- Don’t allow biohazard containers, bags and sharps containers to become more than 3/4 full before replacing it with an empty container.
- Don’t mistake amalgam, silver, lead foil packets and caustic cleaning agents as biological waste. These are all classified differently and need to be handled separate from the medical waste disposal containers in your dental office.
- Don’t attempt to take on biological waste disposal management by yourself. Mistakes in practices and procedures will not only lead to large fines, they could pose a major public health hazard.
No matter how small your dental practice is, it is not wise to just wash your biological waste down the drain. Educate yourself on the local and federal regulations for medical waste, and then pass that knowledge down to all of your employees. It may seem like a lot of work for a modest office, but once you have your biological waste disposal company in place, all of your trash should end up where it belongs.