With the New Year comes the need to review all of our regulations and make sure that our labs are up to standard. This includes assessing “of-the-shelf” chemicals that we use every day – those we rarely stop to think about whether they could be hazardous or not.

Take, for instance, Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl). With the advent of 3D printing, we are using more of this material in post processing. How often do we think of it as a flammable or explosive substance? Probably not often, but we should. It’s just that it is such a common product, we don’t. We even send the waste down the sink when we are done, just like at home.

However, the reality in the dental lab is that we need to follow the regulations. Materials need to be labeled correctly and be included in mandatory training for hazardous materials. In addition, alcohols must be stored properly, based upon local regulations for flammable substances. The regulations may even require the laboratory using fire resistant or retardant storage cabinets. Finally, these materials may need to be placed in special waste containers and be disposed of properly.

Another of these everyday chemicals is ACETONE. After all, that’s just nail polish remover…. right? Same principles apply. 

If you are uncertain about any chemical, you can turn to the internet for information, to regulatory companies or; and even better, turn to your local Fire department for assistance. It is possible that they have never even inspected a Dental Laboratory and you might just find a friend, as I did in my local Fire Chief, when I had my lab. He used the inspection of the laboratory each year as a training tool for the new firefighters. They always found the Propane tanks inside and wanted to put that on the list for change. There was this regulation about use as a portable tool that allowed it, so the new firefighters learned something too.

You might also ask your local water purification plant manager to come by and talk to him/her about what goes down your sinks. Yes, you might need to change some things, but how much better to be on the pro-active side than getting the bill when something goes wrong!

Let’s just make sure that we are following or are in the process of following the REGULATIONS each year. It is best for all to be in a safer work environment.

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