Infection prevention training for the dental team

Sept. 1, 2012
As most dental professionals are aware, the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires initial training for new employees and annual training updates for employees in infection control or prevention.

by Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA

As most dental professionals are aware, the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires initial training for new employees and annual training updates for employees in infection control or prevention.

As a result, one of the questions I hear most often is about access to education and training programs in infection control. There are literally thousands of resources for courses, whether live (in-office or at a meeting), online, on CD/DVD, or in print. With all these choices, how does someone know which courses fulfill OSHA requirements?

First and foremost, my recommendation is to attend or access a course that is targeted specifically to dentistry. Research the presenters or authors. What is their experience in dentistry? What are their credentials? Have they presented courses on a local, state, or national level? Have they published articles and/or research in dental publications? Do they have an affiliation with a specific company or product manufacturer? If the latter is the case, then the participants must be made aware of this affiliation and possible bias toward certain products or services.

In terms of content, according to OSHA, the initial or new employee training must include the following elements:

  • Regulatory text of the standard and an explanation of its contents
  • A general explanation of the epidemiology and symptoms of bloodborne diseases
  • An explanation of the modes of transmission of bloodborne pathogens
  • An explanation of the employer’s exposure control plan and the means by which the employee can obtain a copy of the written plan
  • An explanation of the appropriate methods for recognizing tasks and other activities that may involve exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials
  • An explanation of the use and limitations of methods that will prevent or reduce exposure, including appropriate engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment
  • Information on the types, proper use, location, removal, handling, decontamination, and disposal of personal protective equipment
  • An explanation of the basis for selection of personal protective equipment
  • Information on the hepatitis B vaccine, including information on its efficacy, safety, method of administration, the benefits of being vaccinated, and that the vaccine and vaccination will be offered free of charge
  • Information on the appropriate actions to take and persons to contact in an emergency involving blood or other potentially infectious materials
  • An explanation of the procedure to follow if an exposure incident occurs, including the method of reporting the incident and the medical follow-up that will be made available
  • Information on the postexposure evaluation and follow-up that the employer is required to provide for the employee following an exposure incident
  • An explanation of the signs and labels and/or color coding required for biohazardous materials
  • An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session

Annual training updates should include information regarding new procedures or protocols, updated information regarding bloodborne pathogens, and other information pertinent to employee safety with regard to infection prevention.

The table above includes websites that have CE courses in infection prevention and OSHA compliance that I researched for applicability to meet the OSHA training requirements. This is not an all-inclusive list, but sites that I believe meet the OSHA criteria and are specific to dentistry.

OSHA requires employers to document training sessions with the date, topics discussed, employees in attendance, and the name and credentials of the trainer. These records are required by OSHA to be kept on file for three years. I recommend keeping all training records in case there are ever questions about whether an employee was provided with safety training.

With all the training options available for dental teams, it should not be difficult to meet the OSHA requirements. A common complaint that I hear from teams is that they are required to watch the same DVD course every year, so there is nothing new. Keep it interesting and make your training a true update.

Be sure to check out the resources listed here to see if there is something that is appropriate for your team.



Link to Education Program(s)


American Dental Association

American Dental Assistants Association

Benco Dental

Biotrol/The Richmond Institute for Continuing Dental Education

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Dental Assisting National Board/ The Dale Foundation

Henry Schein Dental

Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention

Total Care

Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA, is the owner of Mary Govoni & Associates, a consulting company based in Michigan. She is a member of the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention. She can be contacted at [email protected] or

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