At a minimum the dental practice should be following guidance from their State Board, state government requirements, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Practices that are providing patient treatment must continue to follow Standard Precautions, which includes use of personal protective equipment, good hand hygiene, sharps safety, proper sterilization procedures, and disinfection of all items that could be contaminated with a dental patient’s body fluids.
Preparing your practice for change in treatment hours
If you have shortened your work week or are temporarily closing your practice, then there are suggestions for equipment and other items you may want to consider preparing for non-use. See recommendations.
Disinfectants Effective Against COVID-19
For COMMERCIAL/HOSPITAL-LEVEL DISINFECTANTS: SafeLink has consulted with manufacturers of some of the most commonly used products in dental practices and dental labs for disinfecting. What we learned was that not all disinfectants are effective in inactivating the COVID-19 virus. We are not recommending any particular disinfectants to use since there are so many out there. It is best to contact the manufacturer of that product to confirm whether or not it is effective against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use for your particular application. See Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2
Dental Practice Staff Safety - Employee Protection
For healthcare workers who are treating patients known to be infected with COVID-19, the CDC recommends use of the N95 respirator as a face mask. Also protect your eyes, wear gloves, and gown. CDC recommends use of disposable gowns rather than washing them, but due to shortages washable items may be more practical. Washing your hands is critical to practicing standard precautions.
If you determine that patient screening needs to be implemented, then consider screening patients when they call in for an appointment as well as when patients arrive for a scheduled appointment. Daily decontamination of waiting room furniture and furnishings is advisable. Maintain the 6' physical distancing between patients in the lobby area as well as between your front office staff and the patient as they sign-in. Get HIPAA training and compliance.
HIPAA Employee Need to Know:
Until this pandemic which has created shortage of PPE, employers have been able to protect their workers with masks, gloves, gowns and safety eyewear or face shields. The CDC and FDA have reacted to the shortage by allowing the use of alternatives to the N95 respirator.
OSHA requires employers to protect their workers first through the use of engineering and administrative controls so these steps are even more important now. Employers must assess the hazards and implement controls to eliminate or minimize the hazards before requiring the use of PPE. This PPE is even more important now due to the method of transmission of COVID-19 through coughing, sneezing, and even talking within close proximity. Now that there is a shortage and there’s a pandemic, the PPE is well-respected and considered a necessity. Get Virtual Safety Training + Assessment.
Take online course: Employee Health & Safety Training for Dental Clinical Environment
The pandemic of COVID-19 has created real challenges and uncertainties for dental practices. Some practices are continuing to provide essential and emergency services and others are waiting to re-open their practices. One thing for sure is that at some point during this pandemic, dental practices have had to ensure that their infection control procedures and policies are working to protect their workers and their patients.
So what will be the long term impact of COVID-19 on infection control? The Long Term Impact of COVID-19 on Infection Control in the Dental Practice to learn more about how you can apply the latest CDC, OSHA, and FDA policies relating to the COVID-19 safety concerns to your practice now and in the future.
Dental practices must ensure that their infection control procedures and policies are working to protect their workers. Here you'll find some helpful Q&A from SafeLink Consulting's Webinar: Long Term Impact of COVID-19 on Infection Control in the Dental Practice held on April 16, 2020.
Contact SafeLink Consulting for assistance in developing your Risk Mitigation Policy, writing your safety compliance program, or training your staff on patient and worker safety including CDC / OSHA / HIPAA / EPA guidelines and requirements. SafeLink's consultants are ready to help!
Get a customized OSHA Health & Safety Manual for your dental practice
Manage your OSHA compliant Health & Safety Manual securely online
Employers must communicate workplace hazards to employees and instruct them on how to protect themselves from injury or illness. Workplace safety training should include all company safety policies.
If you plan to do training for your dentists and staff, it is recommended that you use OSHA's information published on protection of workers from the coronavirus along with information from the Centers for Disease Control. Stress the need to continue to practice Standard Precautions.
The objectives of safety training are:
Most importantly workplace safety training helps ensure workers go home safe to their families.
Training must be conducted by individuals knowledgeable about the subjects of the training. Information and materials provided by outside sources can be used in the training along with videos, online courses, or webinars, however, the training must be specific to the dental practice. For instance, when emergency action planning is being covered, it’s important to discuss the location and use of the emergency equipment in place in the practice along with evacuation and severe weather gathering places.
Always document the training activities. The Training Register should contain the date and time of training, name and qualifications of the trainer, subjects covered, names and signatures of attendees. Retain these records for your Bloodborne Pathogen training for a minimum of three (3) years. Other training records should be retained according to your policies, however, as a Best Practice it could be three (3) years.
In the Centers for Disease Control’s 2016 Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings, CDC recommends appointing an Infection Prevention Coordinator who performs frequent inspections of the infection control practices. Assessing these practices more than annually provides an opportunity to close the gap more frequently on unsafe infection control practices. This goes for all of the safety policies.
Each course provides up to one hour of AGD PACE Program credit provided for FAGD/MAGD. Participants must include their AGD # when taking this quiz to ensure credits are reported to AGD. This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the standards of the Academy of General Dentistry Program Approval for Continuing Education (PACE) through the joint program provider approval of SAFELINK CONSULTING, INC. SAFELINK CONSULTING, INC. is approved for awarding FAGD/MAGD credit. AGD ID# 327654.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Mary Bartlett has been providing risk management consulting to SafeLink Consulting’s client since 1991. Her passion for helping business owners provide a safe workplace and a quality product are evidenced by her enthusiasm for these subjects as a presenter and consultant. In addition to consulting, Mary has contributed to, quoted, and authored numerous educational materials in national publications. Mary takes pride in providing accurate and the most up-to-date information to her clients and co-workers. Her clients have benefited from her knowledge and experience in dealing with both OSHA and FDA inspectors. Mary has been recognized nationally for her dedication and contributions to worker safety and quality assurance.
Gary Morgan, CDT, CQA/ASQ has been guiding businesses in implementing OSHA compliant employee health and safety programs since 2005. Gary received training in FDA quality systems requirements because of a desire to improve his own dental device manufacturing company. This experience has provided a unique understanding that enables him to help companies integrate compliance in a way that not only mitigates risk but also benefits the business. Gary became a Certified Dental Technician in 1991 and in 2015 obtained his Quality Auditor certification from the American Society for Quality. He performs safety and quality audits throughout the U.S and internationally.
Suspending Operations - Temporary Closure
If you are preparing your practice for changes in treatment hours and have shortened your work week, are temporarily closing your practice or are considering what to do to re-open your practice, then there are steps that should be taken for equipment and other items in your practice. Get help in developing your COVID-19 Safety Management Program
Here are some suggestions for equipment and other items you may want to consider in this preparation:
Resuming Operations - Other Re-opening Considerations
Many re-opening issues were pointed out above with the closing procedures. Here are some other items you also need to consider:
Watch Intro Video - Top 5 Safety Compliance Issues Employers Need to Know:
Learn more about other safety topics:
I have been using SafeLink Consulting’s safety and privacy services since I purchased my practice. My major concern initially was about any safety liability I might be inheriting. The initial risk assessment helped me identify the areas where I needed to focus efforts to ensure a safe environment for my patients and my staff. The relationship that I’ve developed with SafeLink has been invaluable and they are an ongoing part of my staff safety training and program maintenance. They are professional, knowledgeable about dentistry, and provide a quick response to my safety and HIPAA needs.
M. Sajid, DDS Atlanta, GA
A huge thank you for making our OSHA training so stress-free and pleasant! Everyone agreed your presentation was probably one of the best we’ve ever had. And they’re a tough crowd!
Julie B., Office Manager Dental Practice in Loganville, GA