Protecting Dental Professionals from Burns, Cuts and Other Hazards in the Workplace

Due to the expected floods in California, the ability to purchase or issue new insurance policies or increase coverage in affected areas may be limited. Contact a Markel representative for more information on these restrictions. The statutes and regulations enforced by Department of Labor agencies require that posters or notices be placed in the workplace. Keep in mind that publication requirements vary by law; that is, not all employers are covered by each of the Department's statutes and, therefore, may not be required to publish a specific notice.

For information on coverage, visit the labor law assistance poster for workers and small businesses (elaws). Many states have additional employment requirements; check with your state's labor department for specific information. Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms present in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needle punctures and other injuries related to sharp objects can expose workers to blood-borne pathogens.

All workers in many occupations, including dental offices and other healthcare staff, may be at risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens. To reduce or eliminate the risks of occupational exposure to blood-borne pathogens, the employer must implement an exposure control plan with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how the employer will use engineering controls and work practices, personal protective clothing and equipment, employee training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccines, and other provisions, as required by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910,1030).Engineering controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimizing employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices such as needleless devices, devices with shielded needles, and plastic capillary tubes. Hazards associated with compressed gases include oxygen displacement, fires, explosions, and exposure to toxic gases as well as physical hazards associated with high-pressure systems.

Special storage, use and handling precautions are needed to control these hazards. Ergonomics is a way of working more intelligently by designing tools, equipment, workstations and tasks that adapt to the worker's work instead of forcing the worker to adapt to their work. Ergonomics has one main objective: the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or the symptoms that exacerbate these disorders. In dentistry, poor work habits, repetitive tasks (such as scraping, root planning, and uncomfortable physical posture) contribute greatly to musculoskeletal disorders, stress, and loss of productivity. Ergonomic risks can be effectively managed or alleviated through a multifaceted approach that includes preventive education, posture and positioning strategies, the proper selection and use of ergonomic equipment, and frequent breaks with stretching and postural strengthening techniques. Ethylene oxide (EtO) is used to sterilize medical equipment and supplies.

EtO presents several physical and health hazards that deserve special attention. EtO is flammable and highly reactive. Acute exposure to EtO gas can cause respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and cyanosis (a bluish discoloration of the skin as a result of poor circulation or inadequate blood oxygenation). Chronic exposure has been associated with the onset of cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, neurotoxicity, and sensitization. One way to limit the amount of damage caused by these fires is to make portable fire extinguishers an important part of your fire prevention program.

When used correctly, fire extinguishers can save lives and property by extinguishing a small fire or controlling it until additional help arrives. A fire is the most common type of emergency that small businesses should plan for. A fundamental decision when planning is whether or not employees should fight a small fire with a portable fire extinguisher or simply evacuate. If fire extinguishers are available for employee use it is the employer's responsibility to educate employees about the principles and practices of using a fire extinguisher as well as about the hazards associated with fighting small or developing fires. First aid is emergency care provided in the event of a sudden injury or illness before emergency medical treatment is available.

The workplace first aid provider is a person trained to perform initial emergency medical procedures using a limited amount of equipment to perform a primary evaluation and intervention while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. It is an OSHA requirement that employees have a safe and healthy workplace that is reasonably free of occupational hazards. However it is not realistic to expect that accidents will not occur so employers are required to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies commensurate with workplace hazards. The details of a workplace medical and first aid program depend on the circumstances of each workplace and employer. The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is based on a simple concept: that employees have the need and right to know about any potential hazards they may be exposed to when they work as well as what protective measures are available to prevent adverse effects from occurring. OSHA designed HCS to provide employees with this information so they can take steps to reduce exposure such as replacing hazardous materials with less hazardous ones or establishing appropriate work practices. Hazard determination is the responsibility of manufacturers and importers of chemicals who must then provide appropriate hazard communication information about their products.

Chemical hazard assessment involves a number of technical concepts which require professional judgment from experienced experts so HCS does not require employers who simply use chemicals rather than producing or importing them to assess their hazards. When employees have information about the chemicals being used they can take steps to reduce exposure replace them with less hazardous materials establish appropriate work practices These efforts will help prevent work-related illnesses injuries caused by chemicals. The HCS addresses issues evaluating communicating information chemical hazards workers Chemical hazard assessment involves number technical concepts process requires professional judgment experienced experts That's why HCS designed employers simply use chemicals rather than producing importing them assess hazards.