Safety Protocols for Sharps Containers in Dental Offices: A Guide for Dental Hygienists

When it comes to sharps containers in dental offices, safety protocols must be followed to protect both employees and patients. According to the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all dental offices must have suitable containers for sharp objects that are puncture-resistant, leak-proof, and labeled or coded with red colors to warn of the dangerous content. Dental hygienists are among the 5.6 million health workers and related occupations who are at risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) during dental procedures. Therefore, it is essential for dental hygienists to be trained in safety regulations related to the assembly and disassembly of syringes and the proper disposal of anesthetic needles and cartridges.

The most common engineering control in dental offices is the annual training of staff to safely handle and dispose of sharp objects. If a dental hygienist is hired through a temporary agency, both the dental employer and the agency can share responsibility as stipulated in their contract. Injuries from dental sharp objects can lead to confusion when it comes to assigning financial responsibility after an injury, which is why it is important for dental hygienists to be aware of their rights. To ensure the safety of everyone in a dental office, it is essential for all staff members to be aware of the safety protocols related to sharps containers. This includes understanding the regulations set forth by OSHA, being trained in the proper assembly and disassembly of syringes, and knowing how to properly dispose of anesthetic needles and cartridges. Additionally, if a dental hygienist is hired through a temporary agency, both parties should be aware of their responsibilities as outlined in their contract.

Finally, it is important for all staff members to understand their rights when it comes to injuries caused by sharp objects.