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Managing Chemical Spills in a Dental Office – OSHA Compliance

If a chemical spill occurs in your dental office, it is important to have written instructions on how to handle such an event. If personnel and/or patients are injured during the spill, then emergency medical services must be activated. If an employee sustains a serious injury or illness, employers must immediately notify OSHA. Employers can report fatalities/serious injuries to OSHA via telephone to the nearest OSHA Area Office or 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA. Additionally, employers can report online using OSHA’s online reporting form

After personnel and patient safety have been assessed (or concurrently), the chemical hazard must be located and shut off at the source, if still discharging. Once it is turned off, the immediate area should be contained and secured. 

If there is an inhalation hazard, depending on the extent, the building may need to be evacuated. This will depend on the specific chemical and the amount released. Open doors and install fans to help dissipate the chemical odor, if any. For a liquid chemical spill, clean up the leak or spill using compatible cleanup materials (i.e. for a developer spill which is basic, use a caustic neutralizer; for a mercury spill, use a mercury spill kit). Refer to the safety data sheet(s) (SDS) for specific cleanup and disposal instructions. Be sure to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to chemical cleanups. 

Depending on the size and type of spill, state agencies may need to be contacted. For example, for any liquid spills that discharge downthe storm or sanitary drains, you must contact your local wastewater sanitation agency. 

For our OSHA Review subscribers… please refer to your template Emergency Action Plan in Section VII of the OSHA Review binder or on our website for information on chemical spill kit supplies.

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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