Croner – Dental Protection’s trusted health and safety partner – provide answers to the most important questions an employer needs to ask to ensure a safe workplace.
As a celebration of 100 years of work to improve occupational health and safety, this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work is to be held on 28 April 2019.
The annual international campaign aims to promote safe and healthy work all around the world and marks the beginning of dedicated events and activities to continue throughout the year.
1. Have you reviewed your policies?
If you have five or more staff, you need to produce a policy statement. Your policy should provide a detailed overview of the duties and responsibilities in your workplace.
Your written policy should highlight who the responsible person is and provide arrangements for securing the health and safety of workers. The duties of managers and supervisors should also be documented, including the adequate provision of information, instruction, training and supervision for staff.
Risk assessments should be completed for all activities undertaken at work, which must also be detailed in your policy.
2. Are there any small electrical items that are in use?
Electrical equipment is essential for the day-to-day provision of dentistry.
Employers need to ensure that all electrical equipment used at work is safe for staff to operate. One way to check the safety is to complete portable appliance testing, which a local electrician can complete by checking your equipment, labelling to confirm it is safe and noting a review date for re-inspection.
3. Do you have appropriate health surveillance in place?
A number of potential occupational risks are prevalent in the dental profession. For example, due to the nature of the role, clinical staff have a greater risk of developing work-related contact dermatitis compared with other occupations.
As a result, carrying out a thorough risk assessment is essential, and can identify appropriate measures you can put in place to lessen risks.
Using health surveillance is one way of ensuring your preventative measures are working.
Working with particular hazardous substances, biological agents, exposure to fumes or ionising radiation (x-rays) could all increase the requirement for medical surveillance.
4. Have you completed a fire risk assessment?
A fire can have a devastating impact on a practice, but putting proactive measures in place can reduce the risk of ever having to deal with this kind of incident.
Under the Regulatory Fire Safety Order 2005 (RRFSO 2005), it is a requirement for businesses and commercial premises to complete fire risk assessments of the area of buildings they occupy and ensure suitable means of detection, firefighting equipment and alarms are installed.
To further support the fire risk assessment, a number of trained staff should be responsible for evacuating staff and visitors in the event of an emergency (which may not be a fire).
5. Have you considered blood-borne viruses (BBVs)?
It’s widely recognised that all members of a dental team have a responsibility to follow infection control guidelines to ensure safe practices.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you have a legal duty to protect the health of your employees and others that may be affected by your work, or visiting your premises.
A number of employers may consider immunisation, such as the hepatitis B vaccination, to reduce the risks.
6. Have you thought about disposal of waste?
Unless the correct measures are put in place, improper disposal processes may pose a risk to anyone exposed to waste, including your employees. With this in mind, it is important to assess your disposal process and any associated risk, and ensure an appropriate licensed carrier is used.
7. Do you understand control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)?
Under COSHH, you need to complete appropriate risk assessments for both biological agents, such as BBVs, and for all the chemicals that may be stored and used on your premises.
8. Have you completed a first aid needs risk assessment?
The first aid needs risk assessment demonstrates to the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority inspector that a company has considered their first aid and decided what requirements are needed.
9. When was the fixed wiring inspected?
It is a legal requirement for commercial premises, including dental practices, to have their fixed wiring installation inspected and tested periodically by a competent and qualified electrician (usually accredited and working to the British Standard BS 7671).
10. Have users completed a display screen equipment (DSE) risk assessment?
It is likely that staff using computers will need to complete a DSE risk assessment to ensure they are seated correctly with relevant adjustments made. This helps to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury or work related upper limb disorders at work.
Members of Dental Protection have access to health and safety advice provided by qualified specialists at Croner. You can call Croner’s member support line on 01455 639 076 and quote the membership number 60000 to speak with an advisor.