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Hazard Communication Standard and Hazardous Waste Regulations in Dentistry (AGD 130)

Presenter: Eve Cuny, RDA, MS


Chemical agents are used every day in health care settings throughout the United States. Dental offices rely on chemicals to disinfect contaminated surfaces, etch teeth before application of resin restorations, disinfect canals during root canal treatment, and for countless other purposes.

These benefits do not come without some risks. Inappropriate handling, use, and disposal of chemicals have been responsible for injuries, illnesses, and environmental pollution. In response to concerns about exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the Hazard Communication Standard in 1983. The latest update was published in 2012. This broad regulation applies to all workplaces that have at least one employee. Because the same rule applies to industrial and professional settings, a thorough review of the regulation as it relates to the practice of dentistry is necessary.

At first glance, the regulation would seem to apply to those workplaces that have large amounts of hazardous chemicals in use on a regular basis. However, the Hazard Communication Standard applies to all workplaces that have at least one employee that is exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals on the job. Additional rules for hazardous waste complete the cycle of responsibility for hazardous materials in the workplace.


Eve Cuny is the Director of Environmental Health and Safety and Associate Professor at Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry. Ms. Cuny is a consultant to the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and the FDI Education Committee. She has served as an expert reviewer and advisor to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is past chairperson of the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP). She is the primary author of the World Health Organization’s guide to infection control in oral health care and has published numerous articles and textbook chapters on safety and infection control. She has lectured widely on infection control and patient safety throughout the world.


Upon completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:

• Understand the role of OSHA in regulating safe use of chemicals in the workplace.
• Describe the required components of a written Hazard Communication Program.
• Differentiate between toxic, corrosive, ignitable, and reactive hazardous wastes.
• Understand the role of the Safety Data Sheet in identifying hazards associated with specific chemicals or chemical compounds.
• Identify the training requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard.
• Ensure proper labeling of chemicals in the dental office.
• Assist the dentist in ensuring compliance with hazardous waste and hazard communication regulations.
• Understand and comply with recordkeeping requirements for various hazardous waste and hazard communication regulations.
• Define the roles of the manufacturer, employer, and employee in relation to these regulations.
• Understand the roles of OSHA and EPA in hazardous materials management.


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry. Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of this course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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