Q. What type of personal protective equipment (PPE) should employees in a dental office wear?
A. The standard requires that PPE be “appropriate.” PPE will be considered “appropriate” only if it does not permit blood or OPIM to pass through to, or reach, the skin, employees underlying garments, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time that the PPE will be used. This allows the employer to select PPE based on the type of exposure and the quantity of blood or OPIM which can be reasonably anticipated to be encountered during performance of a task or procedure.
Q. Who is responsible for providing PPE?
A. The financial responsibility for repairing, replacing, cleaning, and disposing of PPE rests with the employer. The employer is not obligated under the standard to provide general work clothes to employees, but is responsible for providing PPE. If laboratory jackets or uniforms are intended to protect the employees body or clothing from contamination, they are to be provided by the employer.
Q. Does protective clothing need to be removed before leaving the work area?
A. Yes. OSHA requires that personal protective equipment be removed prior to leaving the work area. While work area must be determined on a case-by-case basis, a work area is generally considered to be an area where work involving occupational exposure occurs or where the contamination of surfaces may occur.
Q. What type of eye protection do I need to wear when working wth blood or OPIM?
A. The use of eye protection would be based on the reasonable anticipation of facial exposure. Masks in combination with eye protection devices such as glasses with solid side shields, goggles, or chin-length face shields, shall be worn whenever splashes, spray, spatter, or droplets of blood or OPIM may be generated, and eye, nose, or mouth contamination can be reasonably anticipated.