The new ETS does not require orthodontic procedures be performed in a negative airflow room or include new HVAC requirements. 

Update: The ADA announced on June 14 that its review found that dentistry is largely exempt from the new COVID-19 Healthcare ETS released on June 10. Click here to read more.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the American Dental Association (ADA) are reviewing the new COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) released by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) on June 10. The ETS applies to employee safety measures going forward. The AAO said its legal and advocacy teams, working in conjunction with its federal lobbyists, Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, will continue to analyze the new ETS and provide a more detailed summary to AAO members in the coming week. 

The ADA announced it also is currently reviewing the 900-page rule and will be issuing an update on how it will affect dentists, dental teams, and patients. 

While there had been concerns that a new OSHA ETS would require orthodontic procedures be performed in a negative airflow room, or include new HVAC requirements, it does not. 

OSHA stated that, “The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register…but OSHA will use its enforcement discretion for employers who are making a good faith effort to comply with the ETS.”  

In a statement released on the AAO website, the association points out that it has advocated over the last year that requirements like this would be cost-prohibitive, especially in light of the “difficult year so many orthodontists and dentists have had.” 

Earlier this month, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD, and staff met with the White House Office of Management and Budget to discuss how the rule could impact dentistry. During that meeting, Klemmedson reportedly told officials there wasn’t a “grave danger of being exposed to COVID-19 in dental settings, particularly as the pandemic is decelerating” and noted that dentists have experienced “exceptionally low monthly incidences of COVID-19” despite several regional and national spikes during OSHA’s study periods.

The June 10 ETS includes employer requirement for drafting COVID-19 plans; designating an in-house COVID-19 safety coordinator with compliance authority; wearing of masks by employees; undertaking aerosol-generating procedures; physical distancing and physical barriers; as well as other recommendations generally consistent with current CDC guidance. 

The AAO said, “It is encouraging that the [ETS] preamble says that non-hospital ambulatory care settings may not be covered by the ETS where ‘the employer develops and implements policies and procedures to screen all non-employees prior to entry and does not permit those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 entry into the facility.’” OSHA specifically listed orthodontic settings as an example of a possibly exempted employer.