Posted on


-Carola Mittag
From the very first time I put my hands in a patient’s mouth I started thinking about the bacteria, viruses and illnesses that I might be exposed to. And this was prior to AIDS, SARS and COVID. Not only did invasive and damaging biological exposures enter my thoughts but also the chemicals that I was using to wipe, spray and sterilize with.

At the time the term PPE was foreign to me as we did not wear facemasks, safety glasses or gloves to treat patients or to clean and sterilize equipment between patients. I was touching and breathing in anything and everything that was airborne both biological and chemical. In short, these concerns weighed heavily on me during these years.

For today’s workplaces, there is the availability of excellent personal protection equipment to keep workers safe from dangerous exposures to hazards. What employers and workers must realize is that the proper PPE, correct fit and material is critical for maximum protection. 

We were also told at that time that dentistry was one of the most stressful and psychologically demanding jobs and that dentists had an above average rate of suicide. (Since that time research has shown that there is no reliable evidence to support that dentists are number one when it comes to suicides among professionals.) This in no way diminishes a dentist’s stress when treating patients who are apprehensive, in pain and fearful in the dental chair.

Unfortunately, there is no PPE available to protect workers’ mental health. Yet this is one of the most important and complex issues facing employers today. Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employee:

  • Job performance and productivity.
  • Engagement with one’s work.
  • Communication with coworkers.
  • Physical capability and daily functioning.

Workplace health promotion programs have proven to be successful, especially when they combine mental and physical health interventions.

From personal experience, there were numerous times that workplace physical hazards and mental stress affected my health and my work negatively. Thank goodness that mental health is now being addressed to help employers and their workers. In the end this will result in more productive workplaces through improved employee communication and engagement.  

Attend the Psychologically Safe Workplace Summit



Watch for next month’s Blog published in the first week of September.


Carola Mittag

Consultant and Editor for Mentor Safety Consultants Inc.