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OSHA expert and dental practice consultant Leslie Canham has seen many citations issued to dental practices. But, she says, the citations aren’t the problem. Not having the right safety protocols in place is the real issue. Here are some examples of common concerns that can carry big fines.


One dentist who didn’t train his team about his bloodborne pathogen exposure control plan and didn’t have a plan documented in writing was fined a whopping $53,000. He also didn't have a documented hazard communication plan for keeping team members safe when working with chemicals, and his team had not been trained on proper protocols. 

Whether you are in private practice, group practice, or a dental service organization (DSO), as a leader in the practice, it is your responsibility to have the right safety protocols in place and documents. 


Common Mistakes Lead to OSHA Violations

  • Maybe team members don’t wear all the protective attire (PPE), including gloves, safety glasses, face mask, and clinical jacket. 
  • Maybe the practice fails to provide medical evaluation to team members who were exposed to a patient’s blood or body fluid. 
  • Maybe the practice fails to have all employees sign a form if they choose not to have the Hepatitis B series of shots. 
  • Maybe the practice fails to make the Hepatitis B series available to employees within the first ten days of employment.
  • Maybe the practice fails to have a documented blood pathogen exposure control plan.
  • Maybe the practice fails to have a documented chemical hazard exposure plan.
  • Maybe the practice fails to provide a safe physical environment with proper safety equipment.
  • Maybe the practice fails to train the team on proper safety protocols.


Why You Want to Comply with OSHA Safety Regulations

Obviously, you want to comply with OSHA to avoid penalties to avoid penalties and poor reputation, but the more important part about being prepared for an OSHA inspection is making sure that your team is safe. It’s not enough for the dentist to know the protocols and the plan; the dental team needs to know it, too. Not only are dental team members at risk for hazardous chemical and blood pathogen exposure, but you and your patients are, too.

  1. Keep team members and patients safe.
  2. Avoid medical care and documentation necessitated by pathogen exposure and other safety hazards.
  3. Avoid penalties.
  4. Maintain your good reputation.


Training the Dental Team About OSHA Safety Protocols & OSHA Compliance

When you conduct OSHA training in a practice, you can use your OSHA manual, go through the steps methodically, and know you have all the information you need right there. The OSHA manual outlines what you need to be aware of, what you need to document, and where you need to keep the printed action plans, consent forms, and medical records. That way, the dental team will be prepared to take appropriate, safe action and also be prepared for an OSHA inspection with the required documentation on file.

As new team members come into a practice, it's a process, just like tax forms. You must set up a new team member for the OSHA requirements.

Complacency occurs over time, so annual OSHA training of the entire team is required. This training increases safety and confidence. It provides for a culture of safety precaution and prevention. Fewer errors will occur. OSHA can ask for up to three years of training records. Team members appreciate and deserve this. Bloodborne pathogen training must be conducted every 12 months, and typically takes about an hour if you go through all the steps and are familiar with the OSHA manual. You can make it a lunch and learn, so it's really not that overwhelming.


Free Training Videos for Patient Prism Customers

Leslie Canham has provided one-hour videos on bloodborne pathogen training and hazard communication free-of-charge for Patient Prism customers. Look for these training videos with detailed information and illustrations in Patient Prism Academy. Learn about more related resources on LeslieCanham.com

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