OSHA Sterilization Protocol
When was the last time you reviewed the cleaning and sterilization procedures for your office? How confident are you that your staff are following the correct steps to keep you and your patients safe as well as meet the required regulations? A great way to get on track is by working with the OSHA Onsite Consultation Program.
The OSHA Onsite program is free – and completely separate from the enforcement arm of OSHA, so you are not in danger of receiving penalties or punishments. The way it works is that you contact the office and request that an OSHA Consultant visit your practice. Next, talk with the consultant that is assigned to your case and let him know a little about your practice, what you would like him to evaluate and what questions you have. In my experience, these consultants are friendly and helpful, so you can feel safe to ask questions and get the coaching you need.
If you use nitrous in your practice, you can ask the consultant to bring the equipment needed to test your evacuation system. You also can ask the consultant to test your xrays. These are not normally part of the consultation process and the consultant will need to request the equipment (the nitrous testing equipment costs over 6 figures and is shared between several consultants) in advance so they can provide these additional (free) services to you.
OSHA Sterilization support
To prepare for your OSHA Onsite visit, you will want to have a copy of your bloodborne pathogen and hazardous communications plans, you will want to update your staff (and dentist) hepatitis series documentation, update your MSDS forms and make sure your cleaning bottles are clearly labeled. A visit to the http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/dentistry/index.html web page for dentistry to review the regulations is a good idea.
Plan to spend 15 -30 minutes with the consultant when he arrives to welcome and thank him for making the trip, to show him around the practice and get him focused on what you would like accomplished during the visit. The consultant will need a table where he can review the documentation discussed above and space to work on his report. Assign your best dental assistant or EFDA to show the OSHA consultant around the office, reviewing the cleaning and sterilization routine and introducing the consultant to the staff. The consultant will probably spend up to a few hours to evaluate your processes, check your documentation and make notes for his final report. It’s best to again plan 30 minutes at the end of this visit so the dentist and the consultant can discuss any concerns or recommendations. This is also a great time for the dentist to ask questions and get solid answers from a reputable professional.
In less than 2 weeks, you should receive the final report from your OSHA consultant. It will let you know if any serious or ‘other than serious’ hazards were identified and include recommendations to bring them up to standard. It also includes forms to submit to the consultant to let them know you have rectified these problems.
This OSHA Onsite Consultation Program http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html is a great way to set the standards for your staff. From beginning to end, your staff is involved with preparing for the visit, meeting the consultant and participating in the evaluation and then with reviewing the report and working to correct any concerns. Your staff should create a checklist based on this experience so they could perform their own evaluation – and be ready for the next time you decide to invite OSHA for a visit.
This program is also a great opportunity for marketing your practice. Patients today want to know that they are safe when in your hands – why not tell them you invited OSHA to come in? In fact, this might make a very nice newspaper article – to let the entire town know that you are looking out for everyone’s safety (patients & staff). If you’re kind to your consultant, he may allow you take a photo – and this is a great post on your Facebook page about the visit & how you believe in making sure your practice is as safe as possible.
Managing your cleaning and sterilization protocol is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog:
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