Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me
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Workplace safety - manual handling injuries - Better Health Channel

Workplace safety - manual handling injuries - Better Health Channel | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |
Manual handling is a common cause of injury in the workplace. Attention to posture and lifting technique can help, but research indicates that changing workplace design is the most effective way of preventing injuries. Organisations such as WorkSafe Victoria can offer information and advice.
jason wilding's insight:

Manual Handling is often thought of moving an object of great weight however; injury often occurs when a light object is being moved.


Manual handling training is a simple, effective way to address manual handling. All workplaces should conduct routine manual handling training to ensure that all workers have foundation training on MHE techniques.


This document lists ways of reducing MHE injuries in the workplace and also allows for the review of work practices when conducting MHE tasks.



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QUEST 3 Personal protective equipment guidelines :

QUEST 3 Personal protective equipment guidelines : | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |
Personal protective equipment guidelines as to types of equipment, responsibilities, sources, checklist and management record, employed by The University of Western Australia
jason wilding's insight:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an essential part of working within a dental laboratory. 


Not only are you dealing with impressions from patients that need to be decontaminated but you also have the added risks of rotary equipment and chemicals. 


These guidelines suggest the appropriate PPE required for the tasks. 


Its not only about having PPE, but its about ensuring that you have the correct PPE for the tasks required and the chosen PPE is the best choice for that task.


PPE is an inexpensive and simple way to minimise risks within a workplace and these guidelines will help ensure that the correct PPE is used at the correct times. 



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QUEST 3 - Lighting Ergonomics

QUEST 3 - Lighting Ergonomics | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |
What is an example of a lighting checklist?
jason wilding's insight:

I think that this is an area that is often overlooked. In fact, i would never have thought of this as an OHS issue myself.


Lighting is an extremely important part of the work environment. It is especially paramount for a dental technician as they often are working with an extremely small item, for example a crown and it often needs to be colour matched to the existing dentition to ensure that it gets inserted into the patients mouth.


As the items are quite small, inadequate lighting would strain the eyes of the technician and lead to the possibility of straining of the eyes or requiring the technician to wear glasses.


This checklist provides the worker to self assess their workspace to ensure that there is adequate lighting required for the task at hand.



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QUEST 3 - Ergonomics in Australia How to sit at a computer checklist

How to sit at a computer checklist

jason wilding's insight:

Quest 3 - Dental Technician.


As a dental technician there is a lot of data entry to be imputed into the computer system. This includes:

- Billing information

-Job statistics

-Shipping information, and 

- Photos.


This means that along with actually finishing  the dental appliance the dental technician then needs to sit at a computer for long periods of time conducting data entry.


This checklist from Ergonomics Australia provides a comprehensive checklist on how to set up your office space. 


Having a correctly set up chair and computer can help reduce strains and your general ergonomics in the office. 

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Army Dentist

Army Dentist | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |

'I hate the dentist' meet the most hated man in the clinic, Hahn!


Hahn is a Dental Officer in the Australian Army and treats all service personnel regardless of what uniform they wear. Along with seeing the soldiers, sailors and airmen he does humanitarian aid and heads the triage centre in the event of a mass casualty.


One of the more sombre roles that a Dental Officer conducts is forensic identification after a death of service personnel. The Dental Officers  regularly assist emergency services for identification of persons for example childers hostel fire.


Being a dentist already has many challenges in regards to OH&S and coupled with being a soldier the considerations are never ending.


Read on to find out a few.

jason wilding's insight:

Dentistry in a civilian practice has many OH&S considerations from

Specific patient care, working with children and the implications that they present, working with infectious hazards, ergonomic complaints, Psychological hazards (maybe from being told by so many people a day just how they 'hate the dentist') along with daily stresses and the concentration required to complete the complex procedures. 


Along with the above there are some specific considerations:


patients medical history including any diseases, respiratory infections, or allergic reactions to medications and latex.


Ergonomic hazards. The dentist is always trying to shove as many things as possible into your mouth. A drill, probe and mirror often at the expense of a clear line of sight so they have to move their heads, bodies into positions that are not natural. This includes constantly having to look down into patients mouths all day and the associated back pain from doing so.


Noise hazard - The dental hand pieces rotate at over 450 thousand revolutions per minute and in doing so make an ear piercing high pitched squeal.


Biological hazards - aerosol sprays, splashes, patients saliva and bodily fluids (including vomit) is all in a days work. All of these have pose a risk of transmission to the Dentist.


Chemical Hazards - Mercury from amalgam fillings, X-Ray developing solutions, bleaches, detergents, etchants, acids all present their own risks when working with them.


Radiation - When taking X-rays the Dentist can potentially be exposed to ionising radiation or scatter. Although this dose would be incredibly low with continual exposure this could be detrimental to their health and well being.


Needle stick and Sharp injuries - These are of real concern as they may infect the dentist with diseases.


Along with all of the above, the Army Dentist needs to work in non favourable conditions and not just within our nation but around the globe which introduce more considerations.


Location, local population, local hazards including disease and sanitary conditions, weapon safety, chemical transport, biological waste, mass casualty and the associated risks.


The Army Dentist is a very exciting and varying role depending upon the deployment can see you working in aboriginal communities of rural Australia or in a combat zone within Iraq or Afghanistan,.

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Dental Administration

Dental Administration | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |

Welcome to Dental reception, I'm Kelly.


Kelly is employed by the Australian Public Service (APS) in a general administration role.


Kelly is a Defence civilian who works within the health environment. Her daily roles include making dental appointments via phone and data input into the related computer systems. She is also required to file documents are the patients have received their treatment.


Although these duties sound simple in nature there are a magnitude of OH&S considerations.  

jason wilding's insight:

The duties and OH&S compliancy for an administration worker can seem quite simple to the average folk, but delve a little deeper and you can see that are many OH&S concerns.


Ergonomics - ensuring that the office chair is set at the right height. The computer screen is directly to her front so she does not need to rotate her head to see the screen and the keyboard is also at a workable height with rest pads if required.


Phone positioning so that she does not have to over extend her arm to answer or the use of a headset to mitigate this.


Lighting - Lighting is sufficient so she is not straining her eyes throughout the day. The contrast of the screen to minimise glare.


RSI - through repetitive tasks such as data entry


Emergencies - Her involvement in an emergency drill is critical as the dentist within the facility will take care of the patients, Kelly is responsible for getting the patients in the waiting room to safety.


This is only the tip of the ice burg.

Even the simplest have OH&S implications that often we over look because they are everyday tasks.

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QUEST 3 - Managing fatigue - Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

Fatigue management is a shared responsibility between management and workers as it involves factors both inside and outside of work. Employers and persons conducting a business or undertaking are responsible for using a risk management approach to manage fatigue.
jason wilding's insight:

Fatigue management is essential in all workplaces however, is paramount when dealing with molten metals, rotary equipment and chemicals.


It is essential that the dental technician has their focus on the tasks at hand. This guide helps management to ensure that their workers are dealing with fatigue in the workplace.


As it suggests fatigue management is a shared responsibility in the workplace.


Breaks and limitations on working hours should be enforced to reduce the risks of fatigue.



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QUEST 3 - Stress at Work: How to Reduce and Manage Workplace and Job Stress

QUEST 3 - Stress at Work: How to Reduce and Manage Workplace and Job Stress | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |
Stress at work takes a toll on productivity, and your physical and emotional health. These tips will help you keep job stress in check.
jason wilding's insight:

As a dental technician you have a varying workload from day to day and at its peak it can become very stressful by ensuring that all the dental appliances are completed and arrive at the dental practices in time for them to be inserted. 


The job is often very stressful requiring your full concentration for extended periods of time whilst working on small dental appliances. A dental crown has a tolerance which is measured in microns to give you an example of how exact the appliance needs to be.


This document helps to manage stress in the workplace and identifies ways to improve your stress levels.


I think believe that because stress often can not be seen, it is often overlooked or forgotten about as an OHS issue.



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Quest 3 - Ergonomics in Australia

Overuse strain (CTDs, MSDs)

CTDs: preventing overuse strain injury - key points for managers 
This page gives 14 essential tips for dealing with the problem of overuse strain of the upper limbs (CTDs or "RSI").

jason wilding's insight:

This document is also a checklist which can help to prevent RSI or overuse injuries. 


The checklist can be used as a guide of how to conduct business. As a dental technician they often conduct very similar manual dexterity for each appliance which can lead to RSI or an overuse injury.


This checklist would help to reduce the likelihood of having a RSI or overuse injury within the workplace. It suggest to have breaks or conduct varying jobs throughout the day.



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Dental Technician

Dental Technician | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |

This is the Dave, he is a dental technician who works within the facility fabrication all things dental including mouthguards, dentures, implants, crowns, bridges, snoring appliances and is excellent at engraving trophies!


Dave works in a very hazardous environment with hazardous chemicals, radiant heat, high speed rotary instruments, flames, dust and plaster particles not to mention the impressions that come directly from a patients mouth into the dental laboratory.


Dave uses standard operating procedures to minimise the risks associated with fabricating the appliances and also ensures he wears the correct PPE at all times.

jason wilding's insight:

 The dental laboratory... the forgotten lost word in the dental clinic with workers on their tools fabricating dental appliances within a short time period.


The dental technician fabricates appliances from plastics, acrylic, metals and porcelain and require specialised equipment to do so.


When fabricating a gold crown the technician needs to melt the gold (which is an alloy of gold, brass, copper and palladium) this is a high risk task as the alloy is heated up to in excess of 850 degrees and inverted into a cast whist under positive pressure and the risk for injury is present through burns and radiant heat.


Chemical vapours from the mixing of acrylic for dentures or orthodontic appliances poses a risk to the dental technician. This is usually mixed under purpose built ventilation cabinets.


Impressions come directly from the patients mouth to the dental laboratory and are required to be decontaminated prior to being turned into a positive mould of the impression. If this is not done correctly it may transmit biological hazards into the laboratory.


The dental laboratory is full of high speed rotary tools for polishing, trimming, shaping dental appliances. These create noise and vibration hazards.


Bunsen burners are used when fabricating dentures to make a wax replica of the final product. This introduces both a chemical and a heat hazard.


Trimming and shaping result in dust and plaster particles throughout the laboratory and suitable vacuums need to be used to clean the mess.


The dental laboratory is a hazardous workplace however with the correct training and with safety in mind the appliances can be produced with little risks.


Dave the technician constructs happiness through the fabrication of smiles one at a time.  


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Sterilisation Technician

Sterilisation Technician | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |

Meet Ida, who works in the heart of the dental facility, the sterilisation department.


Without instruments and specific dental tools dentists are simply very, very, very expensive chair warmers!


Ida is exposed to the dirty instruments post treatment and her job is to decontaminate them and then sterilise them for their re-use at a later stage. Due to the nature of her job she is exposed to many health hazards and in turn there are multiple OH&S considerations when performing her duties.


Ida can often be found singing her lungs out in the central sterilisation department and is an excellent singer :-) this also raises an OH&S issue ... noise pollution!



jason wilding's insight:

As Ida pushes her trolley around covered in head to toe in PPE she is collecting instruments that have been used in the treatment of patients.


These instruments often have been sub gingival and may have the patients blood or tissue on them. With this in mind Ida is exposed to a greater risk of a sharps injury.


Sharps/needle stick - This hazard can not be eliminated, even with the use of disposable instruments the hazard would still be present however is mitigated through the use of PPE including thick rubber gloves when collecting soiled instruments.


Infectious hazards - These are blood borne diseases such as Hep A, B, C, HIV/Aids.


Radiation hazards - As she moves from surgery to surgery multiple x-rays may be taken exposing her if she is not behind the lead sheeting. Ida wears a monitor (along with all health staff) that measure the amount of radiation they are exposed too.


Repetitive Stress Injury - As her job is repetitive in nature the risk of developing RSI through the overuse of that particular limb or muscle group.


Heat - Heat is produced from the steriliser as it moves through its cycle needed to exceed 136 degrees to ensure that all the "bugs" have been killed.


Burns - from handling the hot instruments if they are not allowed to cool correctly prior to being handled. 


Hazardous chemicals - Exposed in cleaning of the instruments prior to being bagged and placed in the steriliser again, PPE is essential.


PPE - Which can often be restrictive and with the use of thick gloves reduce the manual dexterity of the user.


All in all, Ida has a very hazardous job but with the use of the correct PPE and through standard operating procedures the risk can be reduced significantly.






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Army Dental Assistant

Army Dental Assistant | Quest 2 - Quest 3 - OHS and Me |


Nancy Havili -

In 2007 she joined the Royal Australian Army Dental Corps. Nancy’s daily tasks include looking after patient administration and the daily general running of the facility.


She has participated in multiple humanitarian operations including Pacific Partnership and AACAP both provide dental care and training to the local population.


Given the vast range of working environments she can be emplyed in the OHS issues are infinante.

jason wilding's insight:

Although Nancy's job does not change in its form from the barracks to a training exercise or a deployment the OH&S issues do. This is due to the nature of that exercise or deployment and its location and the patients she will be treating.


Some of the OH&S issues are as follows:


- Location - as this is forever changing you need to consider the following climate, local borne vectors and diseases, hostile environment, Locally dispersed persons to name a few.


- Weapon safety - knowing how to safely operate different weapon systems this is not only for her safety but if a patient presents with a weapon system it must be made safe and secured for the duration of the appointment.


- Environmental Stress - Climate, wearing PPE in a hot humid environment presents many challenges including heat stress, fatigue management if conducting patrols and security piquets throughout the night.


- Ergonomics - The position needed to clearly see into the patients mouth often leads to the Dental Assistant bending and holding their head and hands in an unnatural position for extended periods of time. Twisting and turning to reach for products, suction and the triplex syringe.


- Chemicals- Many chemicals within the dental industry are harmful if not used to the manufactures specifications these include Mercury, Bleach, Etchants. These chemicals also have specific storage and transport requirements that they must comply with.


- Exposure  to radiation - When in a purpose built facility this is usually mitigated with lead lined walls to absorb the scatter radiation however when working in a remote community in the Pilbra, WA you are not afforded this luxury. Lead lined vests are worn by the Dental Assistant to minimise exposure to the scattered radiation.


All in all, the OH&S considerations are infinite however with the training provided and having standard operating procedures the risks are eliminated or mitigated.


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