Health and safety in dental practices

Posted by Natasha Fisher on 17/04/2019

In the risk-obsessed world that we live in health and safety plays a massive part in what we can or we can’t do, either at work or the businesses we visit. All dental practices need to secure the health and safety and welfare of their staff and patients who visit them, so that they are protected from any risks to their health and safety from treatment or the environment that they are exposed to.

There are so many organisations telling practices what to do whether it be the Health and Safety Executive, The GDC, or The CQC, that it can become hard to feel up to date with any new developments. It is our job as Academy trainers at Simplyhealth Professionals to help practices keep up to date with what is expected and how they can meet those expectations.

One issue that we have repeated conversations with practice teams is about repetitive strain injuries and the problems that this can cause at work. As a result, we have recently updated our Health and Safety with Ergonomics module to identify how health and safety is changing the way practices operate and what they need to do to stay compliant.

Risk assessment for hazards

Practices need to be able to look after their team and also the general public who visit for their regular appointments or new patients walking in from the street. From the moment a patient walks into the practice they need to feel safe in their environment to build trust with the practice staff.

Practices will need to identify any areas for slip, trips and falls and what they can do to prevent them. This is done through a risk assessment which needs to be carried out a least once a year by any member of the team. It identifies the Hazard, Additional Precautions, Action, Who’s Affected and Risk Arising from the hazard. This will then need to be kept in either a Health and Safety folder or an Audit folder.

Ergonomics in the workplace

One new area that we have updated is looking at how ergonomics affects the workplace. The reason behind the additional information is that as clinicians, they may not be aware of the impact of posture, positioning and movement and how it can affect their day to day working life but also the impact on their bodies.

We discuss how easy it is to work in an environment that can create discomfort through poor posture from sitting in the same position for most of the working day, reaching up and down to units, or the impact of passing equipment from nurse to dentist if they are sat in the wrong place.

We look at exercises that will help which the team can do within the surgery, some even while sat down. Improving work environments like this can help to reduce repetitive strain injuries.

Four-Handed Dentistry

Four-Handed Dentistry has been around for many years and it simply means that the dental nurse’s two hands are assisting the dentist's two hands, helping to reduce the amount of time a dental appointment may take. Some use the term - 'Work smarter, not harder'.

Within the Health and Safety module we cover the benefits of Four-Handed Dentistry and things to consider. The ultimate aim is to achieve a safe and stress-free environment for both patient and practice staff. Alongside our information we show the practice staff video clips of how it’s actually done.

As with all of our training we like to make sure that all members of staff are included in our training sessions as everyone in the practice is affected by health and safety issues. 

Good teamwork and having a different pair of eyes in practice situations can benefit the team and how they see Health and Safety in the future.

To find out more about The Academy and the training we offer visit