Is There a Law About Cleaning Carpets in the Dental Office?

OSHA states:1910.1030(d)(4)(i)

General. Employers shall ensure that the worksite is maintained in a clean and sanitary condition. The employer shall determine and implement an appropriate written schedule for cleaning and method of decontamination based upon the location within the facility, type of surface to be cleaned, type of soil present, and tasks or procedures being performed in the area.

These areas fall under housekeeping areas in the dental setting. Housekeeping surfaces that are not likely to come in with patient materials and have a low risk of disease transmission. Keeping all surfaces in the dental environment clean is a necessary fundamental step in the dental environment safe.

Carpet is considered a housekeeping surface. Carpeting is really hard to keep clean and cannot be reliably disinfected especially after exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Carpet can harbor fungi and be a source of bacteria. Studies have documented the presence of diverse microbial populations, primarily bacteria and fungi, in carpeting. Since this is one of the first things your patients see when they enter the dental environment it may be leaving a negative impression on your patients

Because housekeeping surfaces have limited risk of disease transmission, they can be decontaminated with less rigorous methods than those used on dental patient-care items and clinical contact surfaces. Strategies for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in patient-care areas should consider the 1) potential for direct patient contact; 2) degree and frequency of hand contact; and 3) potential contamination of the surface with body substances or environmental sources of micro-organisms (e.g., soil, dust, or water). These areas should be reviewed with all staff and a plan for housekeeping should be put in place. There should be a schedule of carpet cleaning.

With housekeeping surfaces, it may surprise you that physical removal of microorganisms and soil by wiping or scrubbing is probably as critical, if not more so, than any antimicrobial effect provided by the agent used. The majority of housekeeping surfaces need to be cleaned only with a detergent and water or a broad spectrum disinfectant/detergent, depending on the nature of the surface and the type and degree of contamination.  It is important to set up a schedule and that the method of cleaning matches the needs in the area, (e.g., dental operatory, laboratory, bathrooms, or reception rooms), surface, and amount and type of contamination.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that the environment must be safe and that would include pathogens. Center for Disease control on page 11 of the Recommendations from the Guidelines for Infection Control in the Dental Setting 2003 states “Avoid using carpeting and cloth-upholstered furnishings in dental operatories, laboratories and instrument processing areas.

Source:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Infection Prevention Checklist for Dental Setting: Basic Expectations for Safe Care

Source: Sattar SA, Springthorpe VS, Karim Y, Loro P. Chemical disinfection of non-porous inanimate surfaces experimentally contaminated with four human pathogenic viruses. Epidemiol Infect 1989;102:493-505.

Source: US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Adminis- tration. 29 CFR Part 1910.1030. Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens; needlesticks and other sharps injuries; final rule. Federal Register 2001;66:5317–25. As amended from and includes 29 CFR Part 1910.1030. Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens; final rule. Federal Register 1991;56:64174–82. Available at http://www.