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Making an OSHA Checklist for Your Medical or Dental Office? Here’s How to Get Started

Stylized graphic of a checklist in black and pink ink sitting on a blue manilla folder.

Safety standards are one cornerstone of any successful medical or dental practice. When thinking about such standards, office managers may consider the safety protocols set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Below, we’ve compiled some frequently encountered safety concerns to help guide you as you make your own OSHA checklist. Take some time to read through these and the associated OSHA regulations with your staff to help keep everyone in your office safe.

Overview of OSHA Guidelines

OSHA guidelines cover a variety of safety protocols and procedures for medical offices. These include:

  • Creation of formal policies and procedures to meet OSHA standards
  • Identification of health hazards for workers, including biological, chemical, physical, ergonomic, and psychological
  • Preventative measures to address health risks, such as protecting workers from bloodborne pathogens, and hazard communication
  • Compliance with state and local regulations, including pharmaceutical and vaccine storage, workplace safety, and handling of medical waste
  • Following proper screening protocols, procedures, and calibrations required for equipment use, including proper training and certification if required

“(Following OSHA regulations) also helps medical providers advance other goals, as well, including reducing liability risks from malpractice lawsuits and avoiding a bad reputation,” said Tamara Sykes, PR & Reputation Specialist at Postali LLC. “A reputation for being sloppy — even when injury or death does not result — is not good for business."

6 Key Areas of Focus for an OSHA Safety Checklist

OSHA outlines 6 specific areas that medical offices should pay particular attention to when it comes to safety. In general, an employer is responsible for following these protocols and providing employee training in these areas. These include:

1. Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030

Basic requirements for compliance with the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard include:

  • A written exposure control plan, to be updated annually
  • Use of universal precaution
  • Consideration, implementation, and use of safer engineered needles and sharps
  • Use of engineering and work practice controls and appropriate personal protective equipment, like gowns and gloves, face, or eye protection
  • Hepatitis B vaccine provided to exposed employees at no cost
  • Medical follow up in the event of an “exposure incident”
  • Use of labels or color-coding for items such as sharps disposal boxes and containers for regulated waste, contaminated laundry, and certain specimens
  • Proper containment of all regulated waste

2. Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200

This standard is often called the employee’s right to know. Basic requirements include:

  • A written hazard communication program
  • A list of hazardous chemicals (such as alcohol, disinfectants, anesthetic agents, sterilants, and mercury) used or stored in the office
  • A copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical (obtained from the manufacturer) used or stored in the office

3. Ionizing Radiation Standard

29 CFR 1910.1096

The Ionizing Radiation Standard applies to medical offices using X-ray equipment and includes protocols like:

  • A survey of the types of radiation used in the facility, including X-rays
  • Restricted areas to limit employee exposures
  • Use and wear of personal radiation monitors, such as film badges or pocket dosimeters
  • Rooms and equipment may need to be labeled and equipped with caution signs

4. Exit Routes Standards

OSHA 29 CFR Subpart E 1910.35, 1910.36, 1910.37, 1910.38 and 1910.39

Addresses the marking of exits and employee knowledge concerning how to leave the building in case of a fire or other emergency. This includes items such as:

  • Exit routes sufficient for the number of employees in any occupied space
  • A diagram of evacuation routes posted in a visible location
  • Signage

5. Electrical Hazards

OSHA Subpart S - Electrical 29 CFR 1910.301 to 1910.399

Electrical standards for patient and employee safety cover wiring and use of electrical equipment, especially in hazardous locations. For example, if your medical or dental office uses any flammable gas, you may be required to have special wiring and equipment installation. This also includes protocols like:

  • Electrical equipment needs to be free from recognized hazards
  • High-voltage equipment needs to be labeled and locked

6. Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

OSHA 29 CFR 1904

Medical and dental offices are not required to keep an official log of reportable injuries and illnesses under federal OSHA rules, but they may be required to do so in accordance with state regulations. In case of a serious incident, all work-related fatalities or hospitalizations impacting three or more employees must be reported to OSHA. Other protocols include:

  • Work-related injuries leading to death must be reported within eight hours
  • Significant diagnosed injury or illnesses, such as cancer, chronic, or irreversible diseases should be reported

Other OSHA Compliance Requirements

These 6 items provide a short overview of the key OSHA compliance requirements for medical and dental offices, but they are by no means a complete list. Beyond the above, the OSHA regulations include provisions regarding:

  • Ergonomics;
  • Slip and fall considerations and potential hazards;
  • Workplace violence;
  • Influenza, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases;
  • Emergency response;
  • Chemical hazards;
  • Other hazards, including compressed gas, lasers, and latex allergies; and
  • Patient handling

OSHA requires that its poster (Publication 3165) — or the equivalent state plan document — be displayed in the workplace, explaining employee rights in regards to a safe workplace and information about how to file a complaint. Posters need to be displayed in a visible location where employees can see them.

Certain sectors of healthcare providers also have unique requirements. Employers should review all OSHA standards, laws, and regulations to assure compliance, consulting with outside professionals as necessary.

OSHA Resources

You may find these OSHA resources helpful for creating your compliance strategy:

Why Is Berxi Writing About OSHA?

Berxi cares about you and your patients. As a division of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI), Berxi provides insurance products for professionals and small businesses, including medical and dental offices. Not a part of the Berxi family? Get a quote today.


Image courtesy of iStock.com/Misha Shutkevych


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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