By Olivia Wann, BS, JD
On January 29, 2021, OSHA issued stronger guidance on helping employers implement a COVID-19 prevention program. OSHA has a National Emphasis Program for COVID-19. The Primary Target Industries include healthcare such as dentist offices and doctor offices.
Compliance involves assessment of the hazard, identification of control measures, implementation of policies, and training employees. According to Larry McGowan, Supervisory Industrial Hygienist at OSHA’s Office of Health Enforcement, if a dental office receives a programmed inspection and all of the employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, likely the inspection would terminate.
We have very few offices that are entirely vaccinated. Therefore, we wish to update you on OSHA issues that affect your office.
OSHA recognizes the need to align with CDC’s current guidance and will publish updates soon. We will keep you informed of these updates.
Frequently cited standards related to COVID-19 inspections include:
- Medical evaluation prior to wearing a respirator
- Fit test for workers wearing a respirator
- Assessment of the workplace to determine the COVID-19 hazard exists to determine if respirators are needed
- Provide an appropriate respirator
- Train workers to safely use a respirator
- Maintain and store respirators properly
- Maintain records of injuries
Note that since February 1, 2020, OSHA has received 243 complaints from dental offices. Through December 31, 2020, OSHA issued citations with proposed penalties related to COVID-19 totaling $3,930,381. Dental offices that were cited related to respiratory protection with fines totaling $14,361. This does not include fines issued by the State OSHA programs such as TOSHA.
You can download the OSHA Quick Card for Filtering Facepieces and Respirators: https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/respirators.pdf