Spring into safety

June 15, 2010
It's the time of the year to inspect your office safety equipment, says Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA. She explains how to tackle the job in small steps, enlist help from coworkers, and set goals.

By Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA

Winter is officially over, and now is a great time to think about spring-cleaning and inspecting your office safety equipment. Spring-cleaning can be overwhelming, so tackle the job by taking small steps and enlisting help from coworkers. Set a goal to accomplish one task per day. Here are some tips to get started.

Drawers, shelves, and cupboards

Start by removing all items from every drawer in the treatment room. Clean out the dust, then wipe down the inside and outside. Before restocking the contents, examine each item to determine if it needs to be cleaned, replaced, repaired, or discarded. Follow the same routine for the shelves and cupboards, and then move on to other areas of the office such as the sterilization room and lab.

See what your patients see

To see your office through the eyes of patients, take a few minutes to walk in a visitor’s shoes. Does the trip from the reception area to the treatment room reveal a messy sterilization area? If so, you may want to reorganize the sterilization area to keep dirty instruments and other unsightly items out of view. Next, sit in the treatment chair and look around. Do you see dust on the X-ray unit? Are your computers or other high-tech devices clean and barrier protected where possible? Is there dirt or dust on the keyboard, mouse, or other controls? Then, with the patient chair all the way back, look around to see if there are spots on the overhead lights or ceiling. Look for cobwebs and debris, especially on the undersides of the dental equipment.

Dental chair and operatory stool

The most used furniture in the treatment room is where both we and our patients sit. The dental chair and operatory stool also need maintenance. Harsh disinfectants can wear down the upholstery, causing cracks and tears. Rough surfaces are more difficult to keep clean and disinfected than smooth surfaces. If upholstery is badly torn or damaged, consider re-covering the chair. Go over all the surfaces of the chair to remove dust and debris and look for areas that need maintenance or repair. Check the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer about routine maintenance to keep your chairs in top condition.

When it comes to emergency equipment, think safety first!

For fire safety, make sure the office fire extinguishers are fully charged and located in a highly visible place. Employees must know where fire extinguishers are located and how to operate them. Make sure that rechargeable fire extinguishers are serviced and inspected at least once a year. If your office uses a disposable fire extinguisher, be sure to replace it annually and keep a copy of the receipt taped to the tank to document the purchase date. Once a month, check the fire extinguisher gauge to make sure it is fully charged. Smoke detectors should be checked monthly and batteries changed once a year. In addition, eyewash stations should be inspected monthly to confirm that they are operational. Note in your calendar the dates to service, inspect, and/or replace your safety equipment.

OSHA requires employers to provide employees with a first aid kit. Check the first aid kit and restock any supplies before they run out. The patient emergency kit should also be inspected to confirm that necessary items are in the kit and all pharmaceuticals are current. Any expired pharmaceuticals should be removed from the kit immediately.

Check to make sure your oxygen tank is ready for an emergency. Is the tank fully charged? If you have a portable oxygen tank, is it ready to use, and are the attachments such as mask and hoses clean and stored with the tank? Is the CPR mask in good condition?

During your next staff meeting, set up a schedule for spring-cleaning and inspecting safety equipment. To motivate everyone to participate, hold a staff luncheon as a reward for completing spring-cleaning by a certain date. It is also important for everyone to know where to locate these items: fire extinguishers, first aid kit, patient emergency kit, oxygen tank, chemical spill kit, and eye wash station. To make this task more fun, you can have a “scavenger hunt” to locate items in your office. To get your complimentary “Find It in a Dental Office Checklist,” send your request to [email protected].

Infection control and safety depends on a clean, well-organized office and properly functioning equipment. Now you’re ready to spring into safety!

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.