OSHA releases new guidelines related to COVID-19

 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released new guidelines to assist dentists and dental office personnel in working through dental office safety issues in addition to other recommendations that have been issued by the OSDB, CDC and ADA. OSHA is now recommending that dental care workers wear gloves, gowns, eye protection (e.g., goggles, face shield), and NIOSH-certified, disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator or better when performing dental procedures that may or are known to generate aerosols.
Click here to review the new guidance.
According to OSHA: “A guideline is a tool to assist employers in recognizing and controlling hazards. It is voluntary and not enforceable under the OSH Act. Failure to implement a guideline is not itself a violation of the OSH Act’s general duty clause. Guidelines can be developed quickly and can be changed easily as new information becomes available with scientific advances. Guidelines make it easy for employers to adopt innovative programs to suit their workplaces.”
OSHA Respirator Protection Standard
Dental offices that plan to require their employees utilize respirators (i.e., N95 masks or their approved equivalent) or simply make respirators available to their employees but do not require their use must comply with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, which includes having a written respiratory protection program that is specific to their office. More details can be found by clicking here.
Please be aware that the Respirator Protection Standard is a requirement from OSHA for those practices that choose to utilize a respirator.
The ODA will provide additional details in the coming days, including an update to the ODA’s regulatory compliance guide with information on creating a written respiratory protection program.
Additional COVID-19 guidelines for dental offices
When utilizing the OSHA, CDC and the ADA guidance documents, dentists must use their professional judgement. All are guidance documents intended to assist dentists and employers in working through the issues associated with providing care to their patients in a safe working environment. Each entity may provide slightly differing guidance, and it is up to the dentist to determine how to proceed.