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Retention of Employee Exposure and Medical Records – California Dental Regulation

Do you know how long you are required to keep those old material safety data sheets (MSDSs – now referred to as safety sheets, SDSs) that keep piling up in your office? Because illnesses resulting from workplace exposures often do not manifest until many years later, Cal/OSHA requires all California employers to maintain records of employee exposure to hazardous agents, medical records, and SDSs for at least 30 years. Cal/OSHA defines a hazardous agent as any chemical, biological, or physical agent that is shown to be a health hazard and has an SDS indicating the material may post a health hazard to humans.

  1. Workplace exposure monitoring, including personal, area, grab, wipe, or other form of sampling. Types of records include personal exposure monitoring for hazardous chemicals, radiation badge monitoring, and ergonomic assessments.
  2. Biological monitoring results, which directly assess the absorption of a harmful agent by body systems. An example of this is employee bloodborne pathogens post-exposure documentation.
  3. SDS retention. SDSs must be maintained identifying chemical health hazards in the office.
  4. Other employee medical record not listed above, such as hepatitis B vaccination status.

Note: In the absence of #1-3 above, an employer must keep a record such as a chemical inventory or any other record which reveals the identity of a hazardous agent and where and when the hazardous agent was used in the office.

The requirements for records retention are covered in California Code of Regulations Title 8 Section 3204 Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records. Subscribers of our OSHA Review Compliance Program can find these regulations in the back of Section X in the OSHA Review binder or they can be downloaded from OSHA Review’s website –, in the clients-only section under Professional Documents.

Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.


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