Dental professionals must take the necessary steps to ensure their safety in the workplace. Barrier services, such as gloves, masks, protective goggles, and high-power suction, can reduce the dangers of aerosols and vapors. To identify potential hazards, it is important to list them and identify measures to mitigate them. This plan may include specific policies and procedures and safety training for staff.
Directional airflow, such as that from exhaust fans, should be used to ensure that air does not move from patient treatment areas to staff work areas. An industrial hygienist, ventilation engineer, or other qualified professionals can help ensure that ventilation eliminates, rather than creates, workplace hazards. All employers in the dental workplace must meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. When performing urgent or emergency dental care or elective dental care during the pandemic, engineering controls should be used to protect dental workers, patients, and visitors from potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2.Dental office owners should be aware of special OSHA safety regulations related to radiation and blood-borne pathogens, as well as cuts, punctures, and lacerations. The primary purpose of health and safety legislation is to protect all members of the dental workplace (staff, patients, and visitors) from harm while in the facility.
All dental workplaces must undergo a fire safety inspection to ensure that the necessary risk assessment has been carried out. Although there are currently no specific OSHA standards for the dental industry, there are numerous biological, chemical, physical and environmental hazards in dental offices that are subject to OSHA requirements. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that dental and orthodontic offices promote safe and healthy working conditions. Dental nurses have a legal obligation to cooperate with their employers to comply with office requirements regarding safety measures. Young apprentices in the dental environment must be especially protected by two sets of regulations. Poor ventilation can be a major safety problem in dental offices because air is the main route of infection for many diseases.
Before dental nurses were enrolled in the General Council of Dentistry (GDC) and qualified for training, senior colleagues used to monitor junior colleagues until they could carry out activities without supervision. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and organizations such as the British Dental Association offer advice and guidance on risk assessment in general and in the dental workplace in particular. Several chemicals must be used in the dental workplace for successful treatment such as decontamination solutions, X-ray processing solutions, and mercury in amalgam fillings; all of which are potentially harmful if mishandled. Many of the measures taken to ensure health and safety in a facility are common sense. The table provides examples of various hazardous situations that patients and visitors may face in a dental workplace.
Full compliance with health and safety legislation involves all of these measures. To protect themselves from potential accidents in the workplace, it is essential for dental professionals to take all necessary steps. This includes identifying potential hazards through listing them out and implementing measures to mitigate them. It is also important for employers to meet all requirements set by OSHA while ensuring proper ventilation within the facility. Additionally, employers should be aware of special OSHA regulations related to radiation and blood-borne pathogens as well as cuts, punctures, and lacerations.
Finally, it is essential for employers to provide adequate safety training for staff members.