Dental professionals are exposed to a range of potential risks in the workplace, from blood-borne pathogens and chemical agents to noise, vibrations, and even violence. In this article, we'll discuss the three main hazards in a dental practice and how to protect yourself from them. The first hazard is radiation emitted by X-ray machines. According to the HSE ionizing radiation standards, anyone using radiography equipment must be fully trained and, in cases where exposure may exceed 1 mSv, personal dosimeters should be used to measure levels.
However, in the case of dental offices, radiation is unlikely to reach this figure. Instead, measures such as controlled areas and contingency plans should be established as part of a comprehensive office safety policy, while the Occupational Health and Safety Management Regulations (MHSWR) requires a risk assessment to ensure compliance with IRR17. The second hazard is infection. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a challenge for dentists, who must meet the demand for appointments from a growing population while keeping everyone safe from the dangers of dental sprays. While dental offices and hospitals are regularly cleaned and have high health and safety standards, it's nearly impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of infections. The third hazard is musculoskeletal injuries.
Standing for long periods can put you at risk of developing serious musculoskeletal injuries. As a dentist, you're usually standing next to patients and bending over while you work. Continuously bending your back can lead to chronic back pain or a hunched spine. X-ray radiation is another health risk for dentists. Exposure to X-ray radiation has the potential to damage healthy cells.
To protect yourself from slips, trips, and falls in the dental office, it's important to wear appropriate footwear for the job. Health care shoes are specially designed for health professionals and offer strong support and comfortable insoles, as well as an effective, non-slip grip. Finally, it's important to remember that physical hazards in dentistry are widespread. Dental procedures involve exposure-prone procedures (PPE) in which dentists and dental nurses handle sharp objects such as drills and needles, as well as bits of enamel or metal from teeth and fillings. It's essential that dental staff are aware of these hazards and take appropriate steps to protect themselves.