Waste Management and Hazard Communication

Most solid waste generated in oral healthcare settings is non-hazardous solid waste, a subset of municipal solid waste.7 Standard methods of collecting, storing, transporting, and disposing such wastes are regulated by state or local jurisdictions. It is of import to note that municipal solid waste regulations often include mandatory requirements for recycling certain materials (e.g., newspapers, cardboards, plastics, glass containers, aluminum cans, etc.).

A small percentage of solid waste generated in oral healthcare settings is hazardous solid waste. A subset of hazardous solid waste is regulated medical waste. The federal OSHA and its counterpart state agencies are responsible for developing and enforcing rules related to regulated medical waste. The rules are based on anticipated risks of exposure to blood and OPIM and relate to workers’ health and safety. A review of regulated medical waste management is presented elsewhere.8

Hazardous solid waste also includes hazardous waste and universal waste. Hazardous waste includes chemical agents used or generated in the workplace, which pose a hazard to human health or to the environment when handled improperly. Universal waste includes hazardous waste batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and fluorescent lamps. A review of hazardous and universal waste management is presented elsewhere.9

The federal OSHA and its counterpart state agencies are also responsible for developing and enforcing rules for hazardous chemicals as they relate to workers’ health and safety. These rules are predicated on anticipated risks of exposure to chemicals in the workplace and the need to communicate this information to workers based on the principle of “right to know.” A review of hazard communication compliance in oral healthcare settings is presented elsewhere.10