Workers in medical and dental offices in Bettendorf and other cities in Iowa might not be aware of all the various safety and health risks they face. Many of the hazards that workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities face also threaten employees in medical offices. Employers have to ensure safe work environments.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration protects you and other medical office workers by providing safety standards and guidelines. By following those, your employer can protect you from the many security and safety hazards like chemicals, drugs, bloodborne pathogens and biohazard materials in your work environment.
Your right to know
Under OSHA standards, you have the right to know about potential safety risks. The following rules apply:
- Your employer must provide adequate training that will prepare you to deal with potential hazards.
- Written communication plans must be in place.
- Your employer has to provide a list of all the hazardous chemicals like disinfectants, anesthetic agents, alcohol, sterilizing agents, mercury and other chemicals that are stored and used in the dental or medical rooms.
- Copies of the manufacturers’ Material Safety Data Sheets should accompany each chemical.
Bloodborne pathogens pose some of the most common risks in medical offices, but the dangers are often disregarded. The following precautions are essential:
- Never lose sight of the dangers of exposure to the Hepatitis B and C viruses posed by needlestick injuries or skin punctured by other sharps.
- Always wear appropriate personal protective gear such as gowns, gloves, face and eye protection.
- Your employer must establish a written plan to control exposure.
- Your employer has to develop a plan and install units for the safe disposal of contaminated waste.
- Free Hepatitis B vaccines should be available for all employees, along with follow-up vaccinations after incidents.
Radiation and electricity
Wherever flammable gases are present, special installation and wiring require compliance with safety standards that involve OSHA and the local electricity and fire departments. The risks include the following:
- X-ray machines pose the risk of ionizing radiation.
- Allocating specific areas for x-ray work can restrict exposure.
- Compliance with safety standards in x-ray rooms is crucial.
- Your employer has to provide PPE such as pocket dosimeters and film badges.
- Radiation areas and equipment must have labeled warning and caution signs.
How will you cope with a work-related injury or illness?
If you have to deal with the consequences of an occupational illness or injury caused by bloodborne pathogens, needlestick injuries, or other medical or dental office hazards, you might have questions about your rights to compensation. An experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney can answer your questions and assist with the navigation of benefits claims. Compensation typically covers medical expenses and lost wages, and you might be eligible for additional benefits if your injuries caused permanent disabilities.