by: Holly Garchek, OSHA & Infection Control Specialist
Dental Compliance Specialists
Each year there are approximately 384,000 sharps related injuries to health care workers. That amounts to about 1,000 injuries per day at an average cost of about $3042 per victim. $1 Billion is spent annually on lab fees, testing, counseling, and post exposure follow ups from sharps related injuries. That doesn’t include the emotional fallout associated with the injury. The anxiety, fear and the what ifs can be debilitating for some! That being said, one way to protect yourself and prevent sharps injuries in the Dental Practice is to wear utility gloves whenever handling contaminated instruments or when you are performing housekeeping tasks that involve contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials! You owe it to yourselves and your families at home to stay safe!
Yes, I know, utility gloves are bulky, hot and have minimal tactile sensitivity. But, as bad as utility gloves are, they sure beat having to take a bunch of medication that can make you feel crummy, to prevent disease you might contract from a sharps injury. It’s not worth the worry, time and burden.
Utility gloves only cost about $20 and they are your friend! I get it, you’re in a rush, have a crazy schedule, and are running behind; but take time to put the utility gloves on and protect yourselves and the people you are going home to! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says, “The person handling the instruments through removal, cleaning, packaging and sterilization needs to use heavy-duty gloves to help prevent injury with sharp contaminated instruments.”
Although heavy-duty gloves (utility gloves) feel more awkward than examination gloves, they are meant to provide extra protection while handling instruments during the cleaning, rinsing, drying, packaging and sorting procedures that take place during instrument reprocessing.
Utility gloves that are puncture and chemical resistant are available through most dental supply companies. They need to be used whenever we are handling contaminated instruments, and also when performing housekeeping tasks involving contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. The utility gloves are much more heavy duty than your exam gloves but it’s this thickness that prevents the puncture of the contaminated needle or instrument. They can be washed and disinfected for reuse, just follow the manufactures directions regarding this. Check your utility gloves regularly. Look for tears, cracks or punctures and replace immediately when you see damage.
Keep each other safe by reminding your coworkers to wear their utility gloves! We have a personal duty to ourselves and each other to be as safe as possible each and every day. Your health is no joke and you have only one life to live. Protect yourself!
Dental Compliance Specialists, LLC is the Premier Dental Health Compliance and Quality Assurance provider in the country. We help Dentists develop and maintain compliance programs with the goal of keeping them out of the regulatory limelight. We have in-office and virtual programs all catered to the Provider’s specific needs. Dental Healthcare Compliance includes: DEA, ICE/Homeland Security, OIG, OSHA, HIPAA, Infection Control, Auditing and Monitoring, Record Auditing, employee training, Radiology Compliance, Medicaid Compliance and more…It’s not just about OSHA anymore! Call 817-755-0035 for help with compliance.