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Infection Control for Dentists Part 3 – Tripping Hazards and Reporting Requirements

By August 1, 2017January 21st, 2022Practice Management

So this blog is all about how cases that show HOW dentists could land in hot water when it comes to cords and the obligation to report incidents.

If you’re using a laser (like a biolase) in your office and that machine has electrical power cords running to the wall, guess what – you might have a tripping hazard! In the case of R. v. Grey Bruce Health Services, 2003 CarswellOnt 10494, Mary Wilson, an experienced registered nurse (EMPLOYEE), tripped and fell in CAT scan room at a hospital in Owen Sound (EMPLOYER). The only people in the room when Ms. Wilson fell were the patient and a radiologist. This all happened back in 1999. Basically, Ms. Wilson Wilson had moved a portable blood pressure monitor to the other side of the patient at the request of the radiologist. The monitor was now in high traffic area. At some point, Ms. Wilson tripped (although it’s unclear why; she assumes it was because of the cord) and suffered a 3 part fracture to her arm. Ms. Wilson contacted the hospital’s employee health department, which reported the incident to the Ministry of Labour a week later.

After a few days at trial, the Justice of the Peace overseeing the case wasn’t convinced about the cause of Ms. Wilson’s fall. That said, the Justice found that the hospital was an employer had failed to ensure that a work surface was kept free of obstructions and hazards and was fined $15k for that. The Justice also fined the employer $5k for not immediately reporting the incident. On appeal, these convictions were upheld.

Things to remember:

  • Section 51 of the OHSA requires that, where a person is critically injured from any cause at a workplace, the EMPLOYER shall within 48 hours send to an OHSA inspector a written report of the circumstances containing particulars of the occurrence. FYI: “critically injured” means a serious injury that places life in jeopardy, produces unconsciousness, results in substantial loss of blood, involves the fracture/amputation of a legal or arm (not finger or toe), consists of burns to a major part of the body or causes the loss of sign in an eye: see Occupational Health and Safety ActCritical Injury — Defined, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 834, s. 1
  • Section 51 of the OHSA requires that, if a person is disabled from performing their usual work or needs medical attention because of an accident, incident of workplace violence, but doesn’t die and is not critically injured, then the EMPLOYER shall within 4 days give written notice of the occurrence with particulars to an OHSA inspector.
DMC