OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, adheres to a specific mission to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all employees in the American workforce. Owners, employers, and practitioners of dental offices must comply with set regulations and standards that uphold the health and safety of everyone who enters the workplace. Dental employers have to take the necessary steps to prevent hazardous exposures. They must maintain a place of employment free from causes of serious harm and provide adequate employee training and education to ensure their protection.
Regardless of a dental practitioner’s license, education, or training, they must adhere to the rules set by OSHA if they have at least one other employee on site. You must maintain a full compliance position and correct any non-compliant areas to avoid fines or damages. Here is an OSHA compliance checklist for dental offices. Browse through this resource of general guidelines to make sure you avoid any violations.
General Duty and Walking/Working Surfaces
Within the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA outlines standard guidelines for occupational safety in a dental office. Employers must comply with these standards and use them for guidance when developing workplace policies. Under the General Duty Clause, employers must maintain a safe and efficient environment free of workplace violence. They also need to manage job-related hazards. Employers should ensure the surfaces in the workspace don’t pose any risks of slipping, tripping, and falling. They must develop an environment that is comfortable and safe for their employees.
Personal Protective Equipment: Available PPE
Employers have the distinct responsibility of providing the proper protective equipment (PPE) for their employees to use in the workplace. Employers must initially assess their environment for hazards and determine the adequate PPE for their employees’ tasks. They must provide PPE such as gloves, safety glasses, gowns, and masks, but they also need to make sure the equipment is clean and well-maintained.
Employers must assess not only the environment, but also specific workplace hazards that demand the use of PPE. They must provide the appropriate PPE for each potential hazard, communicate the requirements to staff, and ensure the proper fit for employees. Additionally, employers have to inform their staff on the correct measures and procedures for the wear and disposal of used equipment.
Hazardous Communications Standard
Another top standard on the OSHA compliance checklist for dental offices is the communication of hazards. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that hazardous chemicals in the office are properly labeled. Employees have a specific right-to-know authority about the hazardous chemicals in their workplace and how to handle them appropriately. They should implement a proper exposure control plan to fulfill OSHA’s requirements.
The basic requirements of this standard include a written hazard communication program that allows the staff to access hazard information. This information should contain a general list of dangerous chemicals stored or utilized in the dental office, as well as a digital or printed copy of the Safety Data Sheet, or SDS. Typically, employers can acquire this data sheet directly from manufacturers. It outlines how to handle each hazardous chemical. Under this OSHA regulation, employers must provide hazardous communication employee training when they hire new staff members. They have to provide this training again if new chemicals enter the office.
The ionizing radiation standard applies to any facility that contains and utilizes an X-ray machine regularly, such as a dental office. This regulation states that specific equipment or work areas that may expose an individual to radiation need identifiable caution signs or written labels. These areas must be restricted to reduce employee exposure outside of typical X-ray screenings.
Operator protection and proper equipment use is the core component of this radiation control requirement. Any staff that works within restricted radiation areas must wear personal protective gear and monitor shield barriers. Employers must ensure employees learn the correct work procedures and policies for their safety.
Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
Typical of dental offices, compliance with the bloodborne pathogens standard is paramount to securing a safe environment for office staff. This standard covers workers that handle needles or are exposed to blood and potentially infectious materials. Similar to hazardous communication, a written exposure control plan should summarize the requirements and sustainment of the standard. These requirements include the overall use of universal precautions, hepatitis B vaccinations, proper PPE, training of practice controls and methods, safe sharp handling, proper labeling of disposal containers, and containment of any regulated waste to limit exposure.
OSHA Required Paperwork
OSHA requires documentation and recordkeeping to help employers monitor their ongoing implementation of safety procedures. Dental offices should always have safety plans on hand for their general workplace safety, exposure control, and hazard communication. Other documentation includes a list of exposure determination, an assessment of current hazards, an updated list of chemical inventory, injury or exposure incident reports, records of employee hepatitis B vaccination or refusal, and annual employee records of OSHA training sessions.
If an OSHA auditor shows up at your dental office, they may request any of these documents or records and it’s best to be prepared with these documents. Employers can purchase form and document templates from a qualified OSHA consulting company.
Employee Education and Training
OSHA requires employees to be fully and appropriately trained for their own safety. Training should occur as soon as employers hire someone. It must also happen annually. Training needs to cover all the above standards within a yearly training session. This education serves as an encouragement to continually improving safety and efficiency in the workplace. If an auditor happens to inspect your office, they can interview employees about their knowledge and familiarity with standard office procedures.
As a dental practitioner, you already know the importance of providing the proper requirements, procedures, and standards to your clients. Here at Gamma Compliance Solutions, we want to help your dental office achieve full OSHA compliance. Our self-guided dental OSHA training online courses are highly interactive and easy to navigate. Take a look at our various OSHA packages that offer comprehensive compliance manuals for your industry. Whatever your needs, we’ve got you covered.