Green initiatives in the healthcare environment offer the obvious perks: financial savings, smaller footprint, and the organizational camaraderie of making a difference in the environment. And the June issue of Medical Environment Update  reports on how environmentally sound practices can also spruce up the culture of safety, including worker safety, in healthcare facilities.
Here is an excerpt:
Even small changes can have a large impact. According to the EPA, hospitals generate approximately 7,000 tons of waste per day (there are no waste statistics for nonhospital settings), much of which is considered infectious, hazardous, or solid waste. Healthcare facilities also use mercury in some medical devices, in addition to other materials with toxic effects such as PVC, DEHP, cleaning materials, heavy metals in electronics, and pesticides; all this is in addition to consuming large amounts of energy and water.
Furthermore, a report published by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in the February 2011 issue of Archives of Surgery showed that as much as 90% of what ends up as red bag waste in surgical suites does not meet the guidelines for red bag waste. Although hazardous waste makes up only 24% of all waste, it accounts for 86% of the cost, meaning healthcare facilities could save a significant amount of money simply by educating healthcare workers and making sustainability a priority in their facility.
Beyond the potential financial savings, green initiatives can involve workers in making their workplace safer and more enjoyable while minimizing their risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens or chemicals, says Janet Brown, director of sustainable operations at Practice Greenhealth in Reston, Va. Many healthcare facilities are moving environmental stewardship from an initiative to a strategic plan that involves all areas of the facility.
The remainder of the article addresses:
- What does clean smell like?
- Reducing red bag waste
- Reusable equipment improves safety
- Greening the operating room
- What to keep in mind when going green 
Also, included in the June issue:
- Vital stats: Passing an OSHA NEP inspection 
- Why OSHA standards take so long to develop
- Study: Forgetfulness blamed for not wearing masks
- Study assesses dental students on exposures
- Self-inspection notes on conducting safety surveillance rounds
- CDC reiterates: Single-dose vials for one patient only
- Q&As on physician training for bloodborne pathogens, emergency eyewash station check logs, disposable tourniquets and OSHA regulations 
- A quiz to test your understanding of OSHA standards and government regulatory guidelines applying to healthcare facilities
For information subscribing to Medical Environment Update, click on the links below.
|||Get into compliance with HCPro’s Basic OSHA Compliance Manual Kits for medical  or dental  practices. Receive bimonthly electronic manual updates through your newsletter subscription  that keep your regulatory manual up to date and in compliance!|