The ADA said that it is pleased that dental practices are largely exempt from the new emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 issued for healthcare settings by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“The strengthened infection control guidance and very low COVID-19 infection rate for dentists and dental hygienists prove that dental practices are safe workplaces,” said ADA president Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD.
The new OSHA workplace ETS provides guidance to be implemented in healthcare settings where all employees may not be screened for COVID-19, and non-employees and patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are allowed to enter and may be treated.
Dental offices most likely to be affected by this standard would include hospital-based oral surgery practices or those who provide care for COVID-19 patients.
According to OSHA’s guidelines, every dental office must have a COVID-19 plan, regardless of practice setting. Practices also must conduct a workplace-specific hazard assessment for COVID-19.
Based on OSHA’s Hazard Identification and Assessment, the ADA already has created a guide and checklist to walk dentists through this process at ada.org/virus.
According to OSHA’s recommendations, dentists should continue pre-appointment patient screenings to identify individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, rescheduling their appointments if possible or referring them as necessary.
As pandemic restrictions across the country are reviewed at the federal, state, and local government levels, the safety of patients, dentists, and dental team members will remain the ADA’s utmost concern, the organization said.
The ADA also notes that per OSHA guidelines, employers are encouraged to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local regulatory agencies.