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    5 surefire ways to get an OSHA inspection

    OSHA violations can be detrimental to your reputation and your practice’s bottom line. Here’s how to avoid an on-site inspection.



    4. Failing to have sharps safety policies in place

    Although the implementation of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard has helped to protect dental healthcare personnel from sharps injuries and blood exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that sharps injuries continue to occur in dental practices and pose the risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission to both dental staff and patients.

    Most injuries involve burs, needles and other sharp instruments. To prevent these types of injuries from happening, every dental practice should have policies and procedures in place that address sharps safety.

    “They [the CDC] emphasize the need for dental practices to have good policies and practices in place to address sharps safety, particularly when dental staff are using sharps, during cleanup and during disposal,” Borg-Bartlett says. “Engineering controls are the primary method for reducing these types of exposure incidents. These controls should remove or isolate the hazard and are frequently technology-based. Some examples of this technology would be self-sheathing anesthetic needles, safety scalpels and needleless IV ports.”

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    If sharps injuries do occur, it’s the responsibility of the dental practice to document them and identify, evaluate and select devices with engineered safety features. Work practice controls are also important, Borg-Bartlett says.

    “This involves an evaluation of how the worker is performing the task and if changes can be made to improve the safety of performing the task by the worker,” she explains. Examples would be using a one-handed scoop technique for recapping needles. The CDC’s document points out that the handling of needles and syringes during patient treatment can result in injuries to the dentist and to the staff. Some of the injuries they mention can be caused by bending or breaking needles during disposal, unsafely passing a syringe, and using your fingers instead of instruments for tissue retraction or palpation during suturing and administration of anesthesia.”

    The location of sharps containers is also key. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard indicates that sharps disposal should be at the point of use, so Borg-Bartlett says it’s best to have sharps containers in each treatment room rather than a large central container in the sterilization area.

    “Even when the sharps containers are in treatment rooms, they should be easily accessible,” she adds. “Having them located in a cabinet where the cabinet door must be opened or on a counter behind other equipment or tools that must be moved in order to get to the sharps container is not a safe practice.”


    Kristen Mott
    Kristen Mott is the associate editor for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.


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