To mark April 28 and World Day for Safety and Health at Work, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the FDI World Dental Federation has published practical guidelines on ergonomics and posture for oral health professionals as part of the first phase of its Health & Safety in the Dental Workplace project.
Oral health professionals face numerous risks at work, FDI said, such as infection by pathogenic bacteria, exposure to chemical substances or radiation, and musculoskeletal disorders from inappropriate working posture.
The new guidelines highlight the importance of ergonomics in the dental workplace, FDI said. They provide oral health professionals with advice on how to strike a balance between maintaining a good posture and providing efficient treatment.
For example, the guidelines note how dentists often bend over the patient during dental procedures, but this bending can lead to an unnatural, harmful posture that negatively impacts the dentist’s health.
Ergonomics should strike a balance between keeping the dentist health and providing efficient treatment, according to the guidelines. This means enabling a more natural and comfortable posture, achieving patient-friendly treatment, improving treatment efficiency, and achieving treatment accuracy.
The FDI further reports that while 13.8% of adults in the United States’ general population have neck pain and 26.8% have lower back pain, 67% of US dentists have neck pain, and 65% of dentists have lower back pain.
The guidelines include advice on the dentist’s posture including placement of the head, torso, upper arms, elbows, shoulders, wrists, fingertips, and feet. They also describe how the patient should be positioned to optimize the patient’s and dentist’s comfort alike while ensuring efficient and effective care.
Additional guidelines include magnification by loupes and microscopes, instrumentation, where the dental assistant should stand, mirrors, lighting, instrument choice, and personal protective equipment.
The next phase of the Health & Safety project will focus on mental health and well-being. The project is made possible thanks to Morita, said FDI, which thanks the company for its support to promote well-being in the workplace for all oral health professionals.
World Day for Safety & Health at Work focuses on strategies to strengthen national occupational safety and health systems to build resilience to face crises now and in the future, FDI said, drawing on lessons learned and experiences from the world of work.
The ILO said it will take this opportunity to raise awareness and stimulate dialogue on the importance of creating and investing in resilient occupational safety and health systems, drawing on both regional and country examples in mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace.