Lee SlatonBy Lee Slaton, Vice President of Healthcare; Smart Training

The week of Sept. 16 wasn’t a pleasant one for a Massachusetts-based dentist. That’s when OSHA announced it charged the practice owner with multiple violations totaling $9,500.

The violations stemmed from the practice’s lack of a respiratory protection program—a topic we’ve been highlighting in this column since early March.

This isn’t an isolated violation. OSHA is beginning to crack down on this omission across the board. An Ohio-based nursing home was also recently hit with multiple violations of the OSHA Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) standards. In this instance, the fines totaled $40,482.

What precipitated these violations are CDC recommendations for infection and exposure control that employers ignored. To be fair, dental practices never had to contend with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard before, as respirators were never required to be worn in dental settings until the advent of COVID-19. That’s why we’ve been preaching from the mountaintops about this new requirement for dental practices.

Let’s review the five essential items required in OSHA’s mandatory RPP:

  1. A written RPP that’s site-specific for your office
  2. A named administrator of the practice’s RPP
  3. Documented training for all employees on the safe and effective use of respirators
  4. Medical evaluations for all users wearing respirators, whether on an elective or required basis
  5. Fit testing for all users who are required to wear respirators

If your practice is behind the curve on implementing the mandatory OSHA written safety program, Smart Training can help. Smart Training implemented its own “Operation Warp Speed” to create the first fully-compliant Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) for dentist practices in the country. While most dental practices were shut down in March and April, Smart Training worked overtime to create the program knowing practices would need it when they re-opened. This program is now a part of both Essentials and Platinum+ compliance offerings, which cover the other three written safety programs OSHA requires for dental practices. The company has assisted over 15,000 dental healthcare professionals with their compliance needs.