Even the relatively safe environment of a dental practice can hide potential risks to employees and patients. Slips, trips and falls, the chemicals used, even microbiological hazards and medical equipment can all cause harm, which is why a risk assessment is a legal requirement and the key to meet the standards set out by the Health and Safety Executive and Care Quality Commission.
Minimising risk and documenting what you find is required for all businesses. It helps employers create procedures to lower or eliminate the risks all together. It’s also a great way to deliver training and design new policies.
Regular in-house inspections of the premises will help you evaluate potential risks that you may not have known about. Some of the greatest risks in a dental practice environment are slips, trips and falls. These cause around 30% of workplace injuries, according to the HSE. This is the reason why it’s important to keep areas tidy and clear of obstructions, without loose wires and flooring, and unsecured cables.
Water born bacteria and other microbiological hazards are also high on the list, potential presence of Legionella and Pseudomonas bacteria established through lack of control measures and water sampling regime. These risks could be controlled by identifying factors of influence carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, implementing control measures, reviewing the action plan for any open non-conformities and also through staff training and supervision.
Recording any actions conducted can help spotting a pattern and reduce or control it better.
Fire safety is also paramount in a dental practice. You should seek competent specialist support to assess your site and advise on practises that would assist in improving standards and provide correct safe systems of work that will allow staff to carry out tasks in a safe environment.
Providing regular health & safety and fire awareness training to your staff it’s also important, as you will be one step closer to preventing potential risks, as they will be trained to deal with possible situations.
Once you’ve identified and reported your hazards, regular reviews will keep the workplace up to date. While staff training makes sure everyone knows how to maintain a high standard of Health & Safety.
What do we do wrong?
We understand the pressure and stress involved in working and owning a dental practice and sometimes health & safety comes last on your list. This is not to ignore, as if you think health & safety is time consuming and expensive, try an incident.
Practices have far more responsibilities and much stricter guidelines to follow than ever before and even though information is accessible, not everyone could be deemed competent at interpreting the endless of information available and applying this effectively.
Dealing with this day by day could affect your judgement and make potential hazards look entirely normal. Having a trusted partner, external to the practice, who understands the principles, can assist you in making the practice a safe environment for yourself, your staff, visitors and any other group of people that can be involved.
The most common problems that are often
overlooked in a dental practice are: obstructions on escape routes, loose
wires, uncontrolled hazardous substances to health, sharps and needles,
inadequate firefighting equipment and signage, lack of training and supervision,
lack of records and the list can continue.
is a large company who sell white goods, as well as offering other services,such as risk assessments, maintenance, washing room facilities, PAT testing,fixed wire testing etc. Bison Assist is their sole provider for RiskAssessments, such as Legionella, Fire, Health & Safety, Disability AccessAudit.
Bison carries out risk assessments on their behalf, identifying hazards such as nutrients for legionella bacteria to grow and recommend reasonable actions in order to minimise the risks. We once inspected the cold-water storage tank as part of the Legionella Risk Assessment and discovered a lifeless pigeon floating in the water. We have raised serious concerns to the customer and recommended to urgently stop using the water coming from that tank and get a qualified company to clean the tank before putting it back in use.
The customer immediately contacted a
company that does remedial work and had the tank along with the water system
fully cleaned and disinfected. As a result of the risk assessment and the
actions implemented, there were no incidents or ill health problems reported
from that site.
How can we address the risk?
- PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION
You need to control the risk by carrying out a risk assessment, to spread awareness by recognizing and reacting to changing demands, developing and sustaining positive attitudes and behaviours towards health and safety.
It is massively important to introduce risk control systems and provide the necessary support for the workplace precaution through training, supervision etc.
You need to show commitment for theeffective management of health & safety by implementing suitable andpractical arrangements that could reflect reality and be reflected
Implementing the previously mentioned plan by organising for health and safety and profiling the organisations risks. Start by taking into consideration the nature and risk levels, likelihood of harm occurring, level of disruption, financial factors associated with each type of risk, effectiveness of current control measures. Another key factor for this plan to be actioned on is determining the required measures and putting them in place.
It is detrimental to implement the action plan and provide correct safe systems of work, such as adequate equipment, in order to carry out tasks in a safe working order.
As final step of implementing theaction plan, is to provide sufficient information, instruction training and supervision,to ensure that people are competent, and procedures are followed.
In order to measure performance, it is essential to check how the organisation’s health & safety targets are met, such as by investigating accidents and incidents.
A good quality performance should assist the organisation in identifying problems and understanding why the problems arise and what changes are necessary to be induced in order to resolve these issues.
Investigating accidents and incidentsis important to be conducted immediately in order to learn lessons, improvecontrols and prevent recurrence.
The final step is to act by reviewing performance and action on lessons learned. Review performance by checking the validity of the health & safety policy and ensuring that effective systems are in place to manage safety and health in your work environment.
You need to action now! It could take years to build a business and a good reputation, but it can be destroyed overnight.