Chapter 4. Clinical Operations

Infection Control, Environmental Health, and Safety

What regulations govern hazardous materials used in dentistry?

The following information was excerpted from the OSHA Web site.external link

Chemicals pose a wide range of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability, corrosion, and reactivity). Dental practices handle numerous potentially hazardous materials that might have special disposal requirements set by law or regulation.

Potentially Hazardous Materials

  • Scrap amalgam (because of its mercury content)
  • Lead foil from x-ray packets
  • X-ray developer and fixer solutions
  • Bio-hazardous waste
  • Sharps
  • Resins
  • Sterilants
  • Surface disinfectants
  • Enzymatic cleaners

OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), promulgated in 1983 and revised in 1994, was developed to reduce the incidence of chemical source illness and injuries and to ensure that workers who are potentially exposed to toxic substances receive information about the dangers of these substances and about protective measures needed to work with them safely.

The basic goal of a Hazard Communication Program is to be sure employers and staff know about work hazards and how to protect themselves. This is accomplished by requiring chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the hazards of chemicals they produce or import, and to provide information about them through labels on shipped containers and more detailed information sheets called material safety data sheets (MSDSs).


All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must:

  • Prepare and implement a written hazard communication program
  • Ensure that all containers are labeled
  • Ensure that employees are provided access to MSDSs, and
  • Provide an effective training program for all potentially exposed employees.

Download a 4-page Word document with more details about HCS and clinic safety procedures. Word doc




Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Back to Top