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, Canham says. 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.
Common Mistakes Lead to OSHA Violations
In this video with dental consultant Robin Morrison, Canham explains several of the most common mistakes when it comes to OSHA compliance. Maybe team members don’t wear all the protective attire. 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.
“The more important part about being prepared for an OSHA inspection is making sure that your team is safe,” Canham explains.
It’s not enough for the dentist to know the protocols and the plan; the team needs to know it, too. They need to make sure they’re wearing the appropriate protective attire, including gloves, safety glasses, and a clinical jacket.
“When you conduct OSHA training in a practice, you use your OSHA manual and you can go through the steps methodically and get all of the information,” says Canham. The OSHA manual outlines what you need to be aware of, where you need to keep the printed action plans and consent forms, etc. That way, the dental team will be prepared and have the required documentation on file, ready for an OSHA inspection.
Training New Team Members on OSHA Compliance
“As new team members come into a practice, it's a process, just like tax forms. You have to set up a new team member for the OSHA requirements,” Canham says.
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. 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. OSHA can ask for up to three years of training records.
“You can make it a lunch and learn,” says Canham, “so it's really not that overwhelming.”
Leslie Canham has provided one-hour videos on bloodborne pathogen training and hazard communication free-of-charge for Patient Prism customers.