The importance of training

Feb. 1, 2000
Training is a key aspect of a safe and efficient dental office. What is the best way to train your staff? Find out here.

Training is a key aspect of a safe and efficient dental office. What is the best way to train your staff? Find out here.

On Nov. 5, 1999, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced a major revision of the bloodborne pathogens compliance directive. (Note: compliance directives instruct OSHA officers in the manner of evaluating facilities. These directives do not replace OSHA Standards, such as the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Rather, the directives update and clarify standards.) This revised directive, CPL 2-2.44D, places major emphasis on the importance of employee education and training to prevent percutaneous injuries in healthcare settings.

OSHA recognizes that training is a principal strategy in risk reduction for employees, and has always required appropriate and timely training. Training is required for most OSHA standards. In dental offices, performance-oriented training, i.e. training relating to the employee`s tasks or job classification, is mandated through OSHA`s Bloodborne Pathogens and Hazard Communication Standards, and for many of the General Safety Standards.

Dental employers are obligated to provide employees with initial and annual training on hazards and the protective measures that must be used to decrease the risk of occupational exposure. In addition, when there is a change in any task or procedure that may affect occupational exposure, retraining is required. Note that even part-time and temporary employees are to be trained on company time.

Because the length and complexity of OSHA standards may make it difficult to find all the references to training, the Organization for Safety & Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) has designed a "Training Requirements Grid." This grid addresses the "who, when, what, and how" of the pertinent training requirements for the standards cited above. Additionally, this article provides background information on the qualifications for the people providing the training, recommended adult learning theory to help increase the effectiveness of the training sessions, and documentation requirements. Finally, additional resources are offered, including information on a recently released comprehensive training system to ensure that offices have all the information they need to develop and implement a successful safety and health program for employees.


Trainers must be qualified to instruct employees about the subject matter being presented in training. Such trainers must have satisfactorily completed a training program for teaching their respective subjects, or they must have the academic credentials and instructional experience necessary for teaching the subjects. Instructors must demonstrate competent instructional skills and knowledge of the applicable subject matter.

Extensive "train-the-trainer" education can be obtained through the OSHA Training Institute. The OSHA Training Institute`s courses provide basic and advanced training in safety and health, emphasizing OSHA policies and standards, as well as hazard recognition and hazard-abatement techniques.

How to train

To the extent possible, training should be presented so that its organization, language, and meaning are clear to the employees. Employers or qualified trainers should (1) provide an overview of the material to be learned; (2) relate, wherever possible, the new information or skills to the employees` goals, interests, or experience; and (3) reinforce what the employees learned by summarizing the program`s objectives and the key points of information covered.

In addition to organizing the content, employers must also develop the structure and format of the training. The content developed for the program, the nature of the workplace or other training site, and the resources available for training will help employers determine for themselves the frequency of training activities, the length of the sessions, the instructional techniques, and the individual(s) best qualified to present the information.

An effective training program is interactive, allowing employees to participate in the training process and practice their skills or knowledge. This helps ensure that they are learning the required knowledge or skills, and permits correction if necessary. Employees can become involved in the training process by engaging in discussions, asking questions, contributing their knowledge and expertise, learning through hands-on experiences, and through role-playing exercises. Note that in the event of an inspection, OSHA compliance officers are instructed to interview a representative sample of employees to ensure appropriate training occurred.


Records can provide evidence of the employer`s good faith and compliance with OSHA standards. Documentation can also supply an answer to one of the first questions an investigator will ask: "Was the injured employee trained to do the job?" Training records must be established that include:

> dates of the training session

> contents of the training session

> names and qualifications of trainers

> names and job titles of attendees

Remember the following:

> employee training records must be maintained for three years

> employee training records must be available to employees on request for examination and copying

> if the dental practice is sold, employee records will be transferred to the new owner. If the practice is closed, employee records will be offered to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Why train?

Training in the proper performance of a job is time and money well spent - an "investment" rather than an expense. An effective program of safety and health training for workers can result in fewer injuries and illnesses, better morale, and possibly lower insurance premiums, among other benefits.

This resource was reprinted with the permission of OSAP. OSAP is a nonprofit organization providing information and education on dental infection control and office safety. For more information, please call (800) 298-6727.

Training Resources

Organization for Safety & Asepsis Procedures (OSAP)

OSAP Interact Infection Control & Safety Training System - OSAP recently introduced a new office program that meets the annual OSHA training requirements for the Bloodborne Pathogens, Hazard Communication, and General Safety Standards. The new training system is a workbook/video program that is customized for every office/institution environment. Additionally, a school program is available which offers an instructor syllabus for a 10-session course. For more information, call OSAP at (800) 298-6727.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration

- Web page -

- OSHA Training Institute - 1555 Times Dr., Des Plaines, Ill., 60018-1548; (847) 297-4810

- Local Area and Regional OSHA Offices

Pertinent OSHA Pamphlets:

Publications Office (202) 693-2121

- Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines, OSHA 2254, 1995 (revised)

- Training Curriculum Guidelines, 1910.120 AppE

- How to Prepare for Workplace Emergencies, OSHA 3088

- OSHA Handbook for Small Businesses, OSHA 2209

- OSHA Form 200 (for 10 or more employees)

- OSHA Form 101 (for 10 or more employees)

- Job Hazard Analysis, OSHA 3071

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