New OSHA Guidance May 8th 2020

On Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new guidance for dentistry workers and employers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.1 The dental guidance falls under OSHA's general interim guidance, which requires employers to provide their employees safety from SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19.

Of note, the guidance explicitly states that OSHA aligns with the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that only emergency patients should be seen at this time. The guidance reads: "Only patients needing urgent and emergency procedures should be seen during the pandemic. Consistent with CDC recommendations, all elective dental procedures should be postponed. Limiting services to urgent or emergency treatment will help control dental workers' possible exposure to sick patients."i [Editor's note: Links are as they appear on the OSHA website.]

As of May 5, 2020, 21 states have allowed dental practices to reopen for elective procedures.

The guidance also updates exposure risk levels for dental providers:

Personal protective equipment recommendations in the guidance note that National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health–certified N95 respirators or better should be used for well patients undergoing aerosol-generating procedures.

Meng Syn DDS Partner at Almaden Dental Associates

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