You can conduct OSHA training

July 20, 2009
Take advantage of the summer lulls to update the OSHA “Bloodborne Pathogen” training in your office.

Take advantage of the summer lulls to update the OSHA "Bloodborne Pathogen" training in your office. This training is required every year and must be provided by the employer at no charge during regular working hours. The employer must maintain documentation of the training for at least three years. As a dental assistant, you can conduct the training. It's easy once you know what’s required.

First, you'll need an office OSHA manual. If you don't have an office OSHA manual, your state dental association may have one you can buy. If not, you can buy one from the American Dental Association. There are also companies who can provide you with an OSHA manual, but be sure it's designed for dental offices. You can make your own OSHA manual with written safety plans by using the tools on the OSHA Web site at

Next, take time to review the OSHA manual. You can personalize it by filling in the information that describes your office. The manual may ask for the names and classifications of employees, persons to contact in the event of an exposure incident, and the location and instructions for proper use of personal protective equipment. When you've finished personalizing your OSHA manual, you can present the information to your coworkers.

One method of training is to have each person read the OSHA manual, and then have a meeting to summarize each section of the manual. There are specific safety plans in the manual that cover various aspects of the dental office. Review these safety plans and provide information regarding the location of the emergency eyewash station, first aid kit, and fire extinguisher. Give instructions on how to handle biohazard waste and contaminated sharps that are generated in your office. Discuss your exposure control plan and review the actions that must be taken in the event of an exposure incident. Be sure to allow time for questions and comments. To help you meet the training requirements, use the items listed below as a course outline.

According to OSHA, the bloodborne pathogen training must contain the following elements:

1. A written copy and explanation of the Bloodborne Standard. (The standard is usually located in your OSHA manual. If it isn't you can get a copy from the OSHA Web site at

2. A general explanation of the epidemiology and symptoms of bloodborne diseases.

3. An explanation of the modes of transmission of bloodborne pathogens.

4. An explanation of the employer's exposure control plan and how the employee can obtain a copy of the written plan.

5. An explanation of how to recognize tasks and other activities that may involve exposure to blood and Other Potentially Infectious Material (OPIM).

6. An explanation of the methods that will prevent or reduce exposure, including appropriate engineering controls, administrative or work practice controls, and personal protective equipment.

7. Information on the types, proper use, location, removal, handling, decontamination, and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

8. An explanation of the basis for selecting PPE.

9. Information on the hepatitis B vaccine, including its efficacy, safety, method of administration, benefits, and that the vaccination will be offered free of charge.

10. Information on the appropriate actions to take and persons to contact in an emergency involving blood or OPIM.

11. An explanation of the procedure to follow if an exposure incident occurs, including the method of reporting the incident, the medical follow-up that will be made available, and the procedure for recording the incident on the Sharps Injury Log if sharps are involved.

12. Information on the post-exposure evaluation and follow-up that the employer is required to provide for the employee following an exposure incident.

13. An explanation of the signs, labels or color-coding to communicate hazards to employees.

14. An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session.

As a dental assistant, you can conduct the OSHA-required bloodborne pathogen training. This is a great way to keep your office OSHA-compliant. You've got the format for the training; now the only thing left to do is gather the team for a meeting, order the pizza, and complete your OSHA-required annual training!

To help you meet your OSHA training requirements, we would be happy to provide you with a complimentary copy of our OSHA Training Checklist. Simply send your request by e-mail to [email protected].

Leslie Canham is a dental speaker and consultant specializing in infection control and OSHA compliance. She has more than 36 years of experience in dentistry. Canham is the founder of Leslie Canham Seminars, providing in-office training, mock inspections, consulting, and online seminars and webinars to help the dental team navigate state and federal regulations. Reach Canham at (888) 853-7543 or Leslie Canham.