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Safety in the Dental Practice and your responsibilities

safety in the dental practice
Ensure your team and patients are protected!

When you hear safety in the dental practice, most people think of their Infection Control Manual. And while your Infection Control Manual is absolutely important and essential, other safety concerns also need to be addressed to ensure the complete safety of your team, patients, and self.

In 2011, Safe Work Australia developed a single set of Work Health and Safety laws to be implemented across Australia. These are known as ‘model’ laws.

The Model Laws include:

However, each state and territory also have workplace health and safety legislation that prescribes specific obligations for employers and employees to follow.

The purpose of these laws, regulations, and codes of practice is to ensure the health and safety of all persons at work. In the dental context, this means valuing the health of people (staff and patients) as a key priority.

This is not an all-inclusive list of WHS requirements, but a great starting point on your journey to provide a safe work environment for your team and patients:

Employers are required to provide their staff with:

  • A safe place of work

  • A safe system of processes

  • Safe and proper plant and equipment

  • Competent staff to manage and supervise (Including training)

General safety advice for staff:

  • For clinical procedures, always work with a third person present – either the dental assistant or another individual.

  • Follow guidelines for cross-infection control, radiation hygiene, and mercury hygiene stringently

  • Report malfunctioning equipment and unsafe working situations promptly

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment whenever at work in the dental surgery or sterilizing room environment

  • Do not eat while in the dental surgery, sterilizing room, or dental laboratory areas of the practice

  • Report and record all workplace injuries

For the protection of patients:

  • Do not leave a patient unsupervised in the dental chair

  • Check medical histories carefully and update them regularly

  • Always use rubber dam for endodontic treatment

  • Ensure that patients have suitable eye protection for all clinical procedures

  • Never pass instruments or materials over the patient’s face

  • Do not place objects on the patient’s bib or elsewhere on their chest

It is your responsibility and legal obligation as an employer to ensure you are providing a safe working environment for your team and patients. This includes:

  • having a Risk Management Plan

  • Complete Risk Assessments (click here to claim your FREE RISK ASSESSMENT TEMPLATE)

  • Have Control Measures in place that address Risks

  • Audit, Analyze, and Train your team in these Control Measures.

  • Following all relevant State, Federal, and Industry requirements.

It should be the Policy of your Practice to strive for the highest safety standards.

Safety does not occur by accident, but accidents do happen.

Prevention of injury and illness is a goal well worth achieving.


Safe Work Australia - Health care and Social Assistance Sector

Safe Work Australia - Model Laws

Legislation - Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Radiation Safety Regulation legislation - QLD

Need assistance in developing a Health and Safety Management Plan for your practice? Schedule your FREE 30-minute Discovery Call Here.

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