The Occupational Health and Safety Commission, an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, operates under a mission to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America's workers. OHSA establishes guidelines and standards to promote worker safety that apply to every workplace in the United States, including dental offices.
Whether certain standards and protocols apply to a particular dental practice will depend on the type of practice, size, and who they serve. There are certain OHSA requirements, however, that apply to any dental office: bloodborne pathogen standards, hazard communication, ionizing radiation measures, required exit routes, electrical safety, mandatory OHSA poster on display, and reporting occupational illness and injuries.
Bloodborne pathogens are the most frequently referenced OHSA standard in dental office inspections. The bloodborne pathogen requirements are: a written exposure control plan, which is updated annually; consideration, implementation, and use of safer needles; use of appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves, face and eye protection; and proper containment of all regulated waste.
Hazard communication is also regularly cited in OHSA dental office inspections. This standard is also known as the "employee right-to-know" standard and requires employee access to hazard information. This standard demands: a written hazard communication program; a list of hazardous chemicals used or located in the office; and a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical in the office.
Many dental offices have in-house x-ray machines and must take note of the OHSA Ionizing Radiation Standard. This standard requires that all offices with x-ray facilities: conduct a survey of the types of radiation used in the office, restrict x-ray areas to limit employee exposure, require employees working in these areas to wear personal radiation monitors, and label and equip rooms with x-ray machines with caution signs if necessary.
A common element among almost all OHSA standards is employee training on the mandatory OHSA standards. Therefore, after these regulations are implemented and employees must be properly trained on all aspects. OSHA may perform random compliance audits, and the fines for willful negligence are steep. Dentists need to ensure that their practices comply with all OSHA standards in addition to maintaining an OSHA manual, poster, and all other required documentation.
Liles Parker attorneys are experienced with OHSA regulations and are able to assist dental practices with the creation (or review) of OHSA policies and procedures to assure that the office complies with all standards. We are also available to help train employees once the office has an OHSA compliance plan in place.
If you have questions regarding your practice’s compliance needs, then Liles Parker attorneys are able to help. Please feel free call us for a complimentary initial consultation: 1 (800) 475-1906.