When the economy begins to reopen, and employers begin calling you back to work, IDHA wants to ensure we can all be #HealthyAtWork. Dental hygienists need to have the latest, necessary information regarding PPE and how to be safe in the workplace. As you may know, dental aerosols increase the risk of transmission within the dental office, and more thorough research is pertinent to guide us forward. Sources of aerosols include (but are not limited to): air/water syringe, ultrasonics, hand scaling, and usage of all handpieces. COVID-19 has been shown to be suspended in aerosols and on surfaces for prolonged periods. It is our duty to protect our patients from ourselves and from other patients. Visit here to see the list of the State of Illinois executive orders. See the recent SIREN notification by Illinois Department of Public Health sent out on April 14 (these will also be posted below).
If you feel that you are working, or are being asked to work, in an unsafe environment due to insufficient or ineffective PPE or aerosol control, the most important first step is to discuss those concerns with your employer. We do know that the previous standard precautions are not effective against this virus, and the bare minimum PPE should include a full face-shield with a disposable N95 mask. Goggles are needed for patients, not just safety glasses. Please remember that we took an oath to do no harm.
Below are many resources listed to help you prepare yourself and your team. If your management still fails to provide a satisfactory solution after sharing resources and recommendations, there are links listed below to report unsafe working conditions. Please note the current CDC recommendations are to postpone elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent dental visits. “Services should be limited to emergency visits only during this period of the pandemic. These actions help staff and patients stay safe, preserve personal protective equipment and patient care supplies, and expand available health system capacity. This recommendation aligns with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations, which states to limit all non-essential planned surgeries and procedures, including dental, until further notice.”
Visit ADHA.org/covid19 for updated information.
State of Illinois COVID-19 website
Send questions to ADHA Return to Work Taskforce
ADHA Governor campaign on returning to work
Contact Illinois Department of Public Health
Infection Control Resources
Denta Quest Webinars – Infection Control 1 and Infection Control 2
Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings During the Covid-19 Response
List of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for Covid-19
OSHA Very High exposure risk to procedures creating aerosols
OSHA Control and Protection (scroll down, select Healthcare, scroll down, select airborne precautions)
General mask information
Research and Articles on COVID-19 and Dentistry
Journal of Endodontics
Journal of Dental Research
Saudi Dental Journal
COVID-19 and the Problem with Dental Aerosols – Perio-Implant Advisory
Illinois Department of Health
Liability and Labor
Employers cannot retaliate against employees reporting unsafe conditions
Guidance Relating to Non-Discrimination in Medical Treatment for Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
Reporting Unsafe Working/Patient Environments
OSHA – file a complaint
American Association of Dental Boards – file a complaint (this can be done anonymously)
Illinois Attorney General
If you feel you are in an unsafe HOME environment, or know someone that is, you can contact the domestic violence hotline at 1-877-863-6338 or contact your local law enforcement. If you do not feel safe to do either of those, please send us a message on our Facebook page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us that you are "Interested in learning more on how to attend the upcoming CE course" and we will get back to you ASAP for the next steps.