March 01, 2022

How Dental Clinics Can Put Safety and Compliance First

Dental clinics take critical steps to maintain safe and healthy practices as they work hard every day to deliver quality preventative care and treatment to their patients.

It can take a great deal of effort for dental teams to manage multiple regulated waste streams while staying up-to-date with regulatory requirements. The following best practices aim to help dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental office staff promote safety for their patients and their entire team.

Put Safety First

Patient and workplace safety is essential to quality oral health care. Dentists and their staff must be vigilant when following waste removal strategies to avoid exchanging cold and flu viruses, bacteria, environmental toxins, or bloodborne pathogens.

  • Proper disposal of dental sharps. Dental practices should have policies and procedures in place to address sharps safety, including precautions for using sharps, such as dental needles, during clean up and disposal. Safe handling procedures, along with specially designed waste receptacles, can limit needlestick injuries that may expose dental healthcare personnel to bloodborne pathogens. Sharps containers should be puncture-resistant, leak-proof, designed to prevent overfilling, and located where sharps are generated.

  • Proper disposal of non-anatomical waste. Dental staff should also ensure correct disposal of other biomedical waste, such as gauzes or procedural drapes saturated with blood. Colour-coded or labelled non-anatomical waste bags should be used to dispose of these potentially infectious materials properly.

  • Proper disposal of hazardous wastes. Some chemicals used in dental practices may be regulated as hazardous waste. Common items in dental practices that may be hazardous waste include certain pharmaceuticals, fixer, developer, disinfectants, batteries, fluorescent lamps, and amalgam. It is also important to point out that none of these chemical wastes can be disposed in the yellow bag or sharps containers as biomedical waste, even if determined to be non-hazardous. Stericycle can connect you with a vendor to assist with the management of these waste streams.

Environment Canada also has regulations applicable to dental facilities that place or remove dental amalgam and that discharge wastewater to municipal sewer systems. Ontario Regulation 196/03, legislated under the Dentistry Act, requires every dental practice in Ontario in which dental amalgam is placed, repaired, or removed to install and maintain a dental amalgam separator that meets or exceeds the ISO “Dental Equipment – Amalgam Separators” standard.

Actively Participate in Compliance Training

A lack of compliance with safety regulations and the recommendations above may compromise a patient’s or a team member's well-being. Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a nationwide system that gives employers and workers information about hazardous products used in the workplace. WHMIS training helps ensure workers understand the information on labels and safety data sheets and can apply this knowledge on the job. WHMIS is required by law for everyone working in dental practices.

Fortunately, there are online training modules, such as those offered by Stericycle, which enable organizations to meet Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Training. These easy-to-use tools are available 24/7/365, so staff can complete them at their convenience. The modules also document that training has been completed for situations where the practice must document that training has occurred.

Solutions for a Safe, Compliant Workplace

In addition to online compliance training, Stericycle offers medical waste disposal and management solutions to help dental practices ensure a safe, compliant workplace, including:

  • Safe Needle Disposal: Whether disposable or reusable, Stericycle containers are designed with safety in mind to help compliantly dispose of sharps and reduce needlestick injuries.
  • Sharps Disposal Container and Service Options: Reusable, mail back, and disposable sharps containers, as well as full service and self-service options for sharps container exchange are available.
  • Biomedical Waste Disposal: Compliant collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal of medical waste.
  • Pharmaceutical Waste Solutions: Safe and compliant disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste, including narcotics/controlled substances, precursor containing pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications, cosmetics and other consumer products.

Learn more about how Stericycle can help your dental office put safety and compliance first.