Care and feeding of your NEW employee: an OSHA training checklist

Sept. 20, 2010
Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA, outlines the items dental offices need to cover in training new dental assistants about OSHA.

By Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA

Your office hired a new dental assistant, and you are assigned the responsibility of training and orientation. In addition to explaining the particulars of your dental office, you must conduct OSHA training. Employers are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide training to employees who have occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Training must be conducted when tasks are assigned where occupational exposure may take place, then at least annually, and when new tasks or procedures affect the employee’s occupational exposure.

So where do you begin? First, give your new employee a tour of the office, citing the following locations:

  • Eyewash station (show proper use procedures)
  • Locations of fire extinguishers, electrical breaker, emergency exits, and meeting spot in the event of an emergency evacuation
  • Location of OSHA manual and MSDS books
  • Where the employee may obtain a copy of the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
  • Location of Personal Protective Equipment and instructions for proper use
  • Location of first aid kit and patient emergency medical kit
  • Location of required employment posters
  • Areas where hazardous materials are used/kept (explain signs, labels, and/or color coding)

Next, it is essential to explain the appropriate actions to take and persons to contact in the event of an exposure incident involving blood or other potentially infectious material. Be sure to include the method of reporting the incident and the medical follow-up that will be made available. The specific plan for your office should be spelled out in the exposure control section of your OSHA manual.

Then have the new employee read the written safety plans in your OSHA manual to become familiar with your office policies. These plans include:

  • Injury and illness prevention plan
  • Exposure control plan
  • Hazard communication plan
  • Ergonomics plan
  • Fire, emergency, and general office safety plans

Finally, bloodborne pathogen training must be conducted. According to the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030, bloodborne pathogen training must include these 14 elements:

1. A copy and explanation of the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. The standard is usually located in the OSHA manual. If not, you can get a copy from the federal OSHA Web site at, or check your state OSHA Web site.

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 the appropriate methods for recognizing tasks and other activities that may involve exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material (OPIM).

6. An explanation of the use and limitations of 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 selection of personal protective equipment.

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

10. Information on the appropriate actions to take and persons to contact in the event of 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 and labels or color-coding to communicate hazards to employees.

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

Note: You can also use the 14 elements of the Bloodborne Pathogen training as a basis for conducting the mandatory annual training for all clinical employees.

By conducting OSHA training, you create a culture of safety and awareness. Everyone understands the ground rules for safe work practices. Employees feel more confident working for an employer who is concerned about safety and well prepared to handle accidents or injuries. Working in a safe environment is what OSHA training is all about.

If you would like a complementary copy of a NEW employee training checklist, please send an e-mail to [email protected].

Author bio
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.