Healthcare providers have some unique issues when it comes to greening their offices—and some unique motivations. It’s natural for healthcare providers to be concerned with eliminating chemicals and practices that are linked to disease. At the same time, healthcare offices tend to use a lot of disposable products, and must follow special procedures for disposing of biologically hazardous waste.
Healthcare offices can certainly benefit from the general office tips for paper and printing selection, and for energy efficiency, The general tips on waste reduction and recycling apply to all administrative functions in a medical office as well.
There are special healthcare concerns when it comes to cleaning. All disinfectants have some toxic properties; the “green” thing to do is make sure that all disinfectants are used appropriately and on a carefully-targeted as-needed basis.
See the Resources section below for links to healthcare-specific information on disposables and waste disposal.
Tips for Greener Cleaning in Healthcare Offices
- Start by determining what areas of the office require disinfection as opposed to thorough cleaning. According to Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (see link below)
- Disinfection is necessary for surfaces or equipment that will come into contact with broken skin or mucous membranes. CDC recommends these critical care surfaces be cleaned, then disinfected.
- Much of the space in a typical healthcare provider’s office—waiting rooms, filing space, administrative space, hallways, as well as non-contact surfaces in exam rooms—can be cared for using general green cleaning procedures [link to Green Cleaning, above], rather than disinfection
- For areas requiring disinfection, select products that are specific to your disinfection needs (vs. probable target organisms) and clean thoroughly before applying the disinfectant. Use only the amount needed. Hospitals for a Healthy Environment says, “Use of excess product or broadcast application…when targeted surface treatment would be effective simply increases occupational and environmental risks without increasing effectiveness.
- Use products that are poured and wiped rather than spray products where possible. It significantly reduces indoor air contamination.
- Look for products that meet Green Seals’ GS-37 Standard for Institutional Cleaners; these will meet health and environmental criteria as well as cleaning criteria.