A local dentist had installed his compressor and vacuum system on the roof of his small office due to lack of space.  The only way to get to this compressor was through a small opening in the ceiling. Because of the inherent danger of climbing the ladder onto the roof through that small opening, the doctor had prohibited anyone from going to the roof except himself. But there were no signs clearly stating that near the opening nor any written policies stating this prohibition. Later they hired a new Dental Assistant who was apparently not privy to this rule.  As she was trained to do in her previous job, she decides to go to the compressor and vacuum system to check on the traps and see if the proper permit, labels (Chemical and Biohazard) and signage are placed on the machines. She uses the ladder and climbs up on the roof and on her way down gets stuck in the small opening and had to be rescued by the fire department.  This became a Workers Comp claim which later caused an OSHA inspection.

Potential penalties avoided were estimated at over $50,000.

Important Takeaways:

  1. According to OSHA’s general safety order, every incident must be thoroughly investigated, new policies established, and all staff must be trained in the new policies.

There needs to be a mandatory training for all new hires that takes them through a checklist of important items they must become familiar with including signing off on all written policies and procedures of the

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