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Thursday Troubleshooter: Should dental front office staff be allowed to wear sandals?

June 18, 2019
Should the dental front office team be allowed to wear sandals or open-toed shoes?

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QUESTION: Should the front office team be given permission to wear sandals, or any toe-showing shoes? I say they should not be allowed to, but I’m not sure what other offices do. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER FROM AMBER AUGER, RDH, owner of Millennial Mentor:

Thank you for your question! The business team members in my office do not wear sandals, as it is written in our office policy manual that sandals are not allowed to be worn in the clinic. Our business team members are allowed to wear "peeped-toed shoes.

According to OSHA, personal protective equipment (PPE) will be considered "appropriate" only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through to or reach the employee's work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use, and for the duration of time that the PPE will be used [See 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)]. Sandals are not considered a protective barrier for preventing soak-through of blood or other potentially infectious materials.

It is the employer's responsibility to ascertain whether or not there is reasonable likelihood of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials in the workplace. Nonetheless, the determination of appropriate footwear in the absence of this (exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials) or any other recognized hazard is up to the employer. OSHA does not forbid employers from setting protocol for prescribed work attire.

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