Does my Dental Practice Need a Written Emergency Action Plan?
by Katie Palmer 09/18/2020
It’s September—National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared?
Your dental staff may need to act quickly to safeguard employees, patients, or the community following a natural or man-made emergency. Proper planning before an emergency or natural disaster is necessary to respond effectively.
Protect your workers by carefully developing an Emergency Action Plan. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) writes, “Planning in advance helps ensure that everyone knows what to do when an emergency occurs.”
Does my practice need an Emergency Action Plan?
The American Dental Association (ADA) writes, “OSHA specifically requires employers with 11 or more employees to have a written Emergency Action Plan.”
According to OSHA, “An employer with 10 or fewer employees may communicate the plan orally to employees.”
What is a workplace emergency?
A workplace emergency, defined by OSHA:
- Threatens workers, customers, or the public
- Disrupts or shuts down operations
- Causes physical or environmental damage
What emergencies should my practice prepare for?
Here are some examples of emergencies you should consider when creating your Emergency Action Plan:
- Chemical spills
- Disease outbreaks
- Releases of biological agents
- Explosions (nuclear or radiological)
Include many types of emergencies in your Emergency Action Plan to ensure your practice is prepared for any situation. As for natural disasters, focus on the ones that your area is prone to.
What do employees need to know?
Your Emergency Action Plan should ensure every employee knows:
- Their role in specific emergencies
- Where to go for shelter
- Escape routes
- Shutdown procedures
What does an emergency action plan include?
According to OSHA, your written Emergency Action Plan should include:
- Procedures for reporting emergencies
- Emergency evacuation procedures
- Procedures for employees who remain to perform duties before evacuation
- Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation
- Rescue and medical duties of employees
- Audible alarm system
- Contact information for employees to learn more
Do I need to train my employees in my Emergency Action Plan?
OSHA writes, “An employer must designate and train employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of other employees.”
The ADA suggests that your written Emergency Action Plan should document all training and review sessions. But it’s not required. After initial training, there should be periodic retraining.
If you lose a key team member, update your plan immediately. A different employee needs to be responsible for the emergency duties that were assigned to the previous team member.
You need to update your plan at least annually and communicate changes to your employees. All employees should be informed when their duties in the Emergency Action Plan change, or whenever the plan changes overall.
Make new employees aware of the plan.
What are some more Emergency Action Plan tips?
Here are some extra Emergency Action Plan tips from the ADA:
- Drills and interactive training are a great way to teach employees about their responsibilities and what to do in actual emergencies
- Check the functioning of emergency equipment according to a schedule
Can dental employees help in community emergencies?
Outside of your Emergency Action Plan for your office, how can dental employees help communities following an emergency?
A study explores dental employees and their role in helping the public after emergencies. The authors write,
Dentists play an important role as they are well prepared at the time of catastrophic events and are experts in barrier techniques and infection control. They are trained and skilled in administering drugs by injection, can place sutures and control bleeding.
The authors continue, “They can be employed in prescription of medications, immunization, and distribution of medical supplies as well as manages victim triage.” The authors also explain how dental employees can use forensic odontology to help identify victims.
Dental professionals are not perceived as much of help in case of any disaster event. But they already have a lot of the skills needed in responding to emergencies. The study found that dental employees are often willing to contribute to disaster management.
The authors write, “Additional targeted training can be given to the dentists to become more effective responders to natural disasters and other catastrophic events.”
Train Employees with Smart Training
Smart Training can help increase preparedness in your office with our training modules, such as Dental Office Safety. You could also use our learning management system (LMS) to create your own Emergency Action Plan training.
If you want a more comprehensive OSHA solution, consider our Essentials or Platinum+ dental packages. We handle your Emergency Action Plan and all your other OSHA Written Programs. If you have neither of these packages, request a demonstration with a Smart Training Compliance Adviser.
Stay prepared for September National Preparedness Month. Smart Training helps you prepare with minimum effort on your behalf.