At the end of April, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a Guidance Document for dental employers to protect dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) from exposure to COVID-19 during the pandemic. This differs from other guidance documents from other agencies in that it defines what is required for dental employers.
In summary, the Guidance includes the following procedures for dental employers to follow to protect their workplaces:
- Assess the hazards to which their DHCP may be exposed; evaluate the risk of exposure (using the table provided in the Guidance); and select, implement, and ensure DHCP use controls to prevent exposure. Employers need to be able to adapt to evolving risk levels and necessary control measures in their workplaces as states or regions satisfy the criteria to progress through the phases for opening up communities.
- Implement engineering controls (i.e. physical barriers or partitions between patient treatment areas, high evacuation suction and dental dams) and administrative/work practice controls (i.e. teledentistry, patient screening, employee training, proper decontamination).
- As a last line of defense, use personal protective equipment (PPE) for controlling workplace exposure. The guidance has a PPE chart that dictates which PPE should be used for specific office scenarios. According to the chart, respiratory protection (N95 mask) is indicated for treating asymptomatic patients during procedures that may or are known to generate aerosols.
 Other agencies such as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Dental Association (ADA), and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have recommended guidance for controlling COVID-19 in dentistry.
Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.