Provided by Smart Training

Our compliance advisors have conducted over 1,500 inspections of dental practices across the country. Here are three often overlooked areas of OSHA and HIPAA compliance that can lead practices to trouble; and what kinds of penalties non-compliant practices could receive.

Three Commonly Overlooked Areas

Annual Training

Annual training is mandated by OSHA’s Department of Labor, and it should be a cornerstone of creating a culture of safety at every practice.

Why? When team members participate in annual training, they implement the nuances of proper personal protective equipment usage, infection control protocols, and hazard communication. In other words, team members gain a deeper understanding of safety protocols, as opposed to a cursory one.

Hazard Communication

Does your practice have an annually updated Hazard Communication written program?

Does it contain a clear explanation of how your practice handles hazardous and secondary chemical labeling? Crucially, is this program effectively implemented? I.e., do all team members have easy access to it and understand its impact on their daily interactions with chemicals in the practice?

If not, you join the ranks of many who are (likely inadvertently) non-compliant with OSHA regulations.

Notices of Privacy Policy

When was the last time you delved into that 5 or 6-page document, Notices of Privacy Policy (NPP)?

If the effective date harks back to September 2013–the last time there were substantial revisions to the patient privacy laws—it’s time for an update. An outdated NPP can draw unwanted attention from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the regulatory body governing HIPAA violations.

There’s a myriad of other documents that necessitate regular revisitation and updates, including Safety Data Sheets (SDS), their collection, organization, and maintenance, that are a part of regulatory compliance.

About Penalties

OSHA violations presently average between $4,200–$9,200. This wide range reflects the range of severity a violation could have (e.g., “serious,” “repeat,” or “willful”).

For context, a recent OSHA citation highlighted an unmounted fire extinguisher as a “serious” violation.
Non-compliance in areas such as annual training and practice risk assessments could be what separates a category 1 violation from a category 4 (“willful neglect”) violation.

Often, non-compliance is not a result of willful neglect but a matter of not knowing what one doesn’t know. While there’s an understanding that many practitioners tend to be hard of hearing when it comes to HIPAA standards, regulatory agencies might not be forgiving.

Regardless of the category, a visit from the OCR can bring operations to a standstill while charts are scrutinized and documents obtained. Prevention, as they say, is better than a cure.

What can you do?

OSHA and HIPAA compliance in dentistry requires dedication and a precise understanding of regulatory nuances.

Smart Training advisors have encountered instances where documents, written programs, and training materials were cobbled together via Microsoft Word. While the efforts made are commendable, one can’t help but wonder if the practice owner might have invested their time and resources more wisely taking care of patients rather than hunched over a computer late at night under the soft glow of a Costco office lamp.

Practice owners that don’t have the time or inclination to implement a safety program can benefit greatly from the help of a compliance expert.

Smart Training’s compliance advisors have helped dental practices all over the country get in compliance. TDA members receive a 10% discount off retail pricing. For information on Smart Training, visit (Compliance & Supplies) or call Smart Training at 469-342-8300.