I spend a lot of time looking after myself and my family. Routine exercise, the right types of foods prepared in a healthy manner, and a balance between work and social activities. At work I follow the directions of my association and work with all my colleagues to keep our dental clinic and our patients safe.
Too Much Information
I have never really thought about the chemicals we routinely use at work. Our dental clinic has over 150 safety data sheets (SDSs). That is 2,300 pieces of paper. That is way too much information for me to understand. I don’t know what to look for. I don’t have the time to read all those pages and select the critical bits of information that can help keep me safe and healthy. Besides who is responsible for reading all this information and acting on the recommendations in the sheets or cross-referencing them with the wide variety of regulations that govern their use?
To help us understand the information of the safety data sheets we have annual Workplace Hazardous Information Management System (WHMIS) education sessions. Once a year for 60 minutes we have an on-line course which reviews the fundamentals of WHMIS. It is followed by a quiz which you must pass. I have taken this type of course so many times I no longer do it at work but take it home and go through it while watching TV. My training is up-to-date but I have no better understanding of the hazards in my workplace then I did before.
Imagine if I could see that only 33 of the 150 chemicals in use in our clinic are dangerous. That would help me review and understand the hazards I am faced with. Suppose a quick review showed me that 6 of the 150 products contain ingredients that are known or suspected carcinogens. I can start to look for alternatives. If a colleague told me she was expecting, we could identify the 5 products that contain known reproductive toxins and develop a plan to keep her and her unborn child safe and healthy.
There is nothing more important to me than my health and safety – both at work and at home. But I am too busy to spend time reading thousands of pages of information and watching unhelpful online training.
I need simple answers to 3 simple questions:
- What are the chemical hazards in my workplace?
- Can we eliminate some of these hazards?
- If we can’t, how do I protect myself, my colleagues and our patients?
Please feel free to contact us if you would like help understanding the chemical hazards in your Dental Clinic.