Is OSHA Training really required?

OSHA Training Requirements for Dental Healthcare Providers by Kathy Schrubbe

Do we have to do OSHA training?
Is it really required, or just a good idea?


As a Compliance Consultant focusing on providing dental practices with the most current information and training on OSHA and dental infection control, this is by far the most common question I come across. Short answer, yes it really is required; long answer, it’s also a really good idea.

So, what exactly is OSHA all about?

OSHA’s mission is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. It was created as a part of the US Department of Labor, which means the OSHA directives are, in fact, law.

What does this mean for your practice?  As an employer, you are required to provide your employees with working conditions that are free of all known dangers and hazards. So, yes, training is a requirement under OSHA and to ignore the training could land you in hot water with federal enforcement.

Still thinking of skipping over OSHA training? You could be looking at some hefty fines in your future. Proceed at your own risk!

What are the benefits of OSHA training?

Although general safety training on topics such as emergency evacuation, fire safety, and medical emergencies are essential in a dental practice, one of the main requirements is compliance to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

The standard provides regulations for employers to ensure team members have a safe workplace while performing their responsibilities surrounding the delivery of dental care.  The only way dental team members can comply is by acquiring the knowledge and understanding the rationale for compliance.

How often is OSHA training needed?

The Blood Borne Pathogens Standard states that the employer must train each employee who has any occupational exposure to potentially unsafe conditions. The training must also be provided at no cost to the employee and during working hours. The employer will arrange the training program and it must include participation.

The Standard also addresses when and how frequently training must be completed, stating training shall be provided as follows:

  1. When an employee is first hired or first begins a role that will expose them to bloodborne pathogens,
  2. at least annually after the initial training, and
  3. within one year of their previous training, meaning if a practice schedules their annual OSHA training in august, it must be completed no later than August the following year.

Get prepared before your next OSHA Inspection. >>

What can you expect from OSHA training?

No two OSHA trainings are exactly alike, to fully be compliant your OSHA training must be customized to the particular details of your practice, like, which hospital you should report to if someone gets stuck by a needle or what procedures to follow based on what equipment is available in your office. That said, OSHA trainings generally cover all safety measures pertaining to working near potentially hazardous situations. You can find the  full list of subjects  that must be covered on OSHA’s website.

The most important of the training, however, it that the information is delivered clearly and is understandable to all dental team members. No technical jargon without explanation allowed here! The goal is to make sure all employees have a firm grasp on what procedures to follow to keep everyone healthy, happy and without injury.

Effective training sessions also include the engagement of team members! The Standard states, “training must allow for an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session.”

Who provides the training?

Lastly, the Standard is clear on who should provide the training, by stating, “the person conducting the training shall be knowledgeable in the subject matter covered by the elements contained in the training program as it relates to the workplace that the training will address.”

Basically, only those who have studied the OSHA training program and know how to find all the particular details that are individual to each practice may conduct the training.  Some practices are more comfortable bringing in an external expert; others will have team members that are interested, dedicated and committed to carrying out the role of the safety coordinator.

Bring in an OSHA Expert to give your employees a customized training to keep you in compliance. >>

In conclusion, annual OSHA training not only keeps a practice in compliance with the law, but it also protects your employees from unsafe working conditions and ensures patients are being treated by knowledgeable healthcare professionals in a clean, safe environment.

About The Author

Dr. Katherine Schrubbe, RDH, BS, MEd, PhD, is an independent compliance consultant with expertise in OSHA, dental infection control, quality assurance, and risk management.  She is an invited speaker for continuing education and training programs for dental organizations, schools, and private groups all over the US. She has held positions in Corporate as well as academic dentistry and continues to contribute to the scientific literature. Find more about Dr. Schrubbe at schrubbecompliance.com.

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