Achieving and maintaining ISO14001 certification isn’t easy - but it is important. Every team member can contribute towards improving environmental performance. Waste management is a key element of this, and one that starts at the point of care.
To meet ISO14001 standards for waste management, dental practices need the following:
Good waste management practices begin with a thorough assessment of the types and volumes of waste you are producing, and how they should be categorised. You’ll also need to evaluate what you are doing well and where improvements could be made. Set your baseline and get ready to improve!
Now you know what you need to do, it’s time to plan how to do it. Having a plan in place helps to keep everyone focused on shared goals and gives them a clear understanding of what their individual responsibilities are. Waste reduction methods should be a key strategic consideration, and regular reviews and updates should also be built into the plan from the offset.
A documented waste management policy
A written waste management policy provides a clear framework for waste management processes and allows you to outline your objectives. Aim to document the different types of hazardous and non-hazardous waste your practice generates and how it should be categorised, stored, transported and disposed of, as well as who is responsible for making sure this happens. It should also detail the commitments you have made to comply with specific waste legislation.
Robust waste segregation processes
Waste segregation is a crucial aspect of waste management best practice throughout Ireland, where businesses are legally required to correctly segregate, label, package and store their waste. Having a robust segregation process in place helps to keep your staff and patients safe, make compliance easier and ensure that every team member is well equipped to make the right decisions about waste disposal at the point of care, whether they have clinical knowledge or not.
It's crucial that hazardous and offensive waste is appropriately stored prior to being collected, within legal time limits, and disposed of. For hazardous waste, this means making sure it is stored in the correct containers, in a secure designated area that meets the correct legal criteria; to prevent the risk of harm to staff, patients, the local community or the environment.
ISO14001 requires certified businesses to keep a waste register that includes details on the type and amount of waste produced, and who it is deployed to. Waste must be deployed to properly authorised service providers and the information regarding these providers should also be recorded on the waste register. Service providers are expected to provide information about hazardous substances they transport and dispose of in Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Every business that handles hazardous waste needs an emergency response plan in place for when things go wrong. The plan should identify possible emergency scenarios and outline appropriate responses to different emergency triggers. It should address procedures for containing incidents to minimise danger to human life, property and the environment. It should also detail the emergency training provided and the personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied.
Ongoing staff training & PPE
Getting waste management right starts with your frontline staff, and it’s important that every member of your team is provided with information on substances used by your practice that are hazardous to health - in a form they are likely to understand. Training on handling hazardous waste should be provided to staff on an ongoing basis, as well as training on what to do if they or others are injured by sharps waste or exposed to hazardous substances. All staff should also be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) where appropriate, and trained on its proper use.
Licensed specialist waste disposal services
Achieving ISO14001 certification is easier when you use a licensed waste management specialist. Ideally, choose one that can provide you with a comprehensive service that covers not only compliant transportation and disposal at permitted facilities, but also ongoing support with the full ISO14001 checklist.
Stericycle supports its customers with straightforward advice, support to implement best-practice waste management policies and practical end-to-end solutions.