Covid-19 has brought about an unprecedented challenge to the compliance industry. Never in the history of OSHA have we seen anything like Covid-19 and in the beginning stages of this pandemic there was just as much disinformation as correct information. With the guidelines, standards, executive orders, and mandates changing almost daily, it enormously difficult for the dental community to protect their staff and patients as well.
Below I have listed the OSHA the questions I get every day, the answers are not my opinions they all come from properly vetted sources. (OSHA/ADA/CDC)
- Do I have to supply KN-95 & N95 respirators to my staff?
No, a level 2 or level 3 surgical mask is acceptable, KN-95 and N95 are fine if you have them.
- Do I have to have my employees fit tested and medically evaluated if we use KN-95 and or N95?
No, if you are providing those types of respirators their use is strictly voluntary and with a copy of Appendix D from the respiratory protection standard not fit test is required.
- Do all respirators have to be NIOSH approved?
Yes, as of July of 2021 all respirators must me NIOSH approved, however existing supplies can be used until they are depleted.
- Does my front desk staff have to wear a mask?
At this point in time the answer is yes.
- What kind of mask must I wear?
According to a Temple University study and OSHA at minimum a level 2 or 3 mask should be worn.
- Do I have to continue to prescreen my patients?
Yes, prescreening with temperature checks continue for all who enter your office.
- Do I have to keep an inventory of my PPE?
Yes, a simple logbook or sheet of paper will do.
- Do I have to change my disposal grown after every patient?
No, they must be changed if they become visible contaminated or at the end of a shift.
- Should we continue to have a splash guard at the front desk and check out?
Yes, if feasible nothing has changed since the beginning of Covid.
- Does OSHA want a specific cleaning log?
Yes, it should part of your OSHA binder.
- Do I have to close my office if an employee test positive for Covid?
No, OSHA says that since all the other employees are protected via their PPE closure is not required.
- What should my employee do who is positive?
The employee should follow their health care provides guidance and quarantine 10 days before they are allowed to return to work from the date, they tested positive.
- Can I mandate that my employees get vaccinated?
The answer is likely yes for those employees who have direct patient contact in the operatory. If an employee refuses a required vaccination, the practice owner can ask the reason(s) for the objection and the employee should provide any supporting documentation. If an employee resist vaccination for non-disability-related or nonreligious, personal reasons, you may nevertheless wish to discuss whether an accommodation might still be reasonable under the circumstances. If the practice owner does not agree, however, they could terminate the staff member.
- Can I tell patients if my staff members are vaccinated?
If all practice staff have been vaccinated, the practice is generally free to answer “yes,” unless consent is required under applicable law. Practices should not reveal who has or has not been vaccinated but could simply state something to the effect of “those who have been able to receive the full vaccine regimen have done so.”
- Do I need specific training for PPE?
Yes and no, I provide specific training on PPE during my annual bloodborne pathogens update as required by law, it includes a section on PPE, more specifically on how to put on and take off (Don & Doff) so it really depends on how your OSHA updates are done.
- Can an employee sign a waiver if they don’t want to use PPE?
Absolutely not (yes, I do get that question)
- What do I have to do for the ETS? (Emergency Temporary Standard)
Every office front door must have a symptom COVID-19 check list. So, if an individual has the symptoms, they can call the office for rescheduling if so, deemed necessary. The office phone must be prominently displayed on the check list on the door. This one page must comply with the ETS CFR 1910.502 if you have an individual that takes care of your compliance needs, they should be able to provide you with this.
Next, all individuals that enter your office must be prescreened for COVID-19 and have their temperature taking (exclusions, mail person, delivery person) if someone enters your office who is not an employee or a patient and will be spending more than a couple of minutes there, they should be prescreened.
Each office must complete a COVID-19 Healthcare Worksite Checklist & Employee Job Hazard Analysis. This form is available on OSHA’s website it only takes maybe ½ hour to do and once it is done you don’t have to do it again, but it should become part of your OSHA binder.
This is all based on the assumption that you already have in place an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan with Guidance for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your office. This should also be provided by your OSHA compliance person.
These actions will give you an exemption for the balance of the ETS.
There are exceptions to many of the questions and answers in my compliance practice my clients have direct access to myself for help and clarification when needed.
OSHA can issue a citation for any workplace scenario which they feel puts an employee in harms way by using the General Duty Clause from the OSHA Act of 1970.
I always error on the side of caution when it comes to protecting my clients and OSHA does take that into consideration when they are paying you to a visit.
The cost for my programs runs about $495 for an average size dental office.
I do make a guarantee that if OSHA fines you, we pay the fine!