When it comes to dental offices, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set of standards that must be met in order to ensure the safety of employees and patients. The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard is one of the most important requirements that OSHA looks for in a dental office. This includes the general use of universal precautions, vaccination against hepatitis B, appropriate personal protective equipment, training in practical controls and methods, safe and accurate handling, proper labeling of disposal containers, and the containment of any regulated waste to limit exposure. Although there are no specific OSHA standards for dentistry, exposure to numerous biological, chemical, environmental, physical and psychological occupational hazards that may affect dentistry is addressed in specific OSHA standards for the industry in general. For dental offices with state occupational safety plans, it is important to consult your area administrator for applicable requirements.
The list of job classifications can be ordered by position such as dentist, dental assistant, dental hygienist, sterilization coordinator, etc. OSHA does not regulate the sterilization of dental equipment but state and local regulatory authorities or dental boards may require compliance with CDC infection control regulations. The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes the importance of engineering and work practice controls recommended by OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the transmission of blood-borne pathogens caused by needle punctures and other injuries related to sharp objects in dental environments. The ADA also supports its members by providing them with access to current information, forms and prototypes as needed to help them meet the occupational safety and health requirements that affect dental health care environments. This includes providing guidance on how to properly store and dispose of hazardous materials, how to properly handle sharps containers, how to properly clean and disinfect surfaces, how to properly use personal protective equipment (PPE), and how to properly train staff on infection control protocols. In addition to these guidelines, OSHA also requires that all dental offices have an emergency action plan in place. This plan should include procedures for responding to fires or other emergencies such as power outages or hazardous material spills.
It should also include evacuation routes and contact information for emergency services. Finally, all dental offices must have a written hazard communication program that outlines the hazards present in the workplace and how employees can protect themselves from them. By following these guidelines set forth by OSHA, dental offices can ensure that their employees are safe from potential hazards while providing quality care to their patients. By taking the necessary steps to comply with OSHA regulations, dental offices can also protect themselves from potential legal action should an accident occur.