With recent federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulation changes increasing the regulatory oversight and scrutiny of the healthcare and hospital industry, now is a great time to ensure your facility is proactively managing all environmental compliance risks. Hospital and hospital system departmental and administration leaders often struggle with meeting regulatory compliance requirements related to RCRA and myriad other federal and state environmental regulations such as the Clean Air Act, Emergency Preparedness and Community Right to Know Act and others.
Unfortunately, systemic or specific compliance issues or even violations may only be uncovered during a government agency compliance inspection or a waste/chemical management incident. When an incident occurs or an inspection is performed by an environmental agency inspector, they often find that no single department or person is responsible for the facility-wide compliance with these important environmental laws. Often, when issues or violations are uncovered, leadership is faced with reacting to address the symptoms of non-compliance without fully understanding or addressing the underlying root causes that led to the incident or non-compliance finding. Commonly, the reactive corrective actions required of facility departmental and compliance leaders to address the regulatory citations are hurried, only superficially address the root cause(s) to compliance, and consume staff and leadership time that is critically needed for other hospital or healthcare facility duties.
In our experience gained from working with other industries and many healthcare facilities and systems, it’s critical that various groups within or adjacent to the hospital or facility system, such as risk management, quality/compliance, facility management, safety, laboratory, environmental services, and pharmacy leaders collaborate on and strive for a proactive approach to facility environmental risk management that connects the disparate functions of these departments. Knowing the full spectrum of environmental compliance requirements your facility or campus is subject to is an important first step.
RCRA compliance regulations and compliance requirements, as an example, are very complicated given the hundreds if not thousands of wastes and waste streams generated in a typical healthcare facility. Sorting through and understanding just RCRA regulations, the corresponding hazardous waste program compliance requirements, and other federal and state environmental laws and requirements sets the table for minimizing the environmental, legal, and financial (and other) risks your healthcare facility faces. Doing this will undoubtedly take knowledge, patience, time, and leadership; however, this approach will give you the best shot at proactive rather than reactive campus compliance with the environmental laws and regulations impacting your facility and operations.
To learn more about this approach to reaching compliance, please join us on June 24th for our webinar, Moving From Reactive to Proactive Environmental Risk Management in Today’s Healthcare Facilities, with industry expert Darrell Oman.