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Management of waste in dental practice
All dental team members need to be aware of The Controlled Waste Regulations 2012 which outlines the management of waste arising from dental practices. The requirement for dental practices in England to register with the Environmental Agency is no longer in force. However, dental practices must use licensed and registered companies to deal with their waste. It is also a requirement that all records relating to waste management and in particular consignment notes are retained for 3 years.
All staff training begins with appropriate induction and waste management is no different. The training at induction should involve the handling of waste, segregation, storage, disposal and also the knowledge of any documentation in relation to waste. Dental practice induction policies and procedures should reflect this training requirement has been carried out and understood.
Sharps containers should be assembled according to instructions given by the waste collection company and signed and dated. The containers should ideally be wall mounted adjacent to the clinician. It is important that clinicians dispose of sharps themselves and avoid passing sharps to nurses for disposal. This helps in reducing the chances of sharps injuries. Sharps containers should be kept in safe close mode when not being used. They should never be filled above the safe line and when closed and locked should be signed and dated. As with clinical waste bags, all containers should be stored in a locked bin or cupboard ready for collection. Dental study models containing gypsum should be disposed and stored in special containers as should any waste amalgam. This included any extracted teeth with amalgam which must not be placed in the sharps container. Those practices using analogue x-ray systems must use special containers for fixer and developer as well as for lead foil from films.
Penalties for mismanagement of waste are high and can also lead to investigations from the GDC and CQC so it is wise to audit waste management on an annual basis and ensure training of all staff is up to current guidelines.
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