The hazard assessment tool recommends that practices evaluate each patient based on a number of factors including environment, health, staff required, and available PPE.

The ADA’s Advisory Task Force on Dental Practice Recovery announced the upcoming release of its hazard assessment guide, which is designed to assist dental professionals evaluating procedural risks as they consider how best to provide both a safe workplace and patient care.

“The hazard assessment tool will allow dentists to assess their risks based on what’s occurring in their local region, rather than just the amount and types of personal protective equipment that they have on hand,” Rudy Liddell, task force co-chair, told ADA News.

The hazard assessment guide is the latest in a series of resources the ADA task force has produced to support dental practitioners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hazard assessment, according to the task force, is for dental professionals returning to work and is based on an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement that dental professionals perform hazard assessments when evaluating the conditions under which staff will work.

It recommends the practices evaluate each patient based on a number of factors including the environment, patient’s health, dental work needed, how that work might be delivered, staff required, and type of personal protective equipment available and appropriate. These factors are then balanced against any mitigating actions that might be taken, with the result being an assessment of the overall risks in delivering that care under the patient’s circumstances.

“It makes sense that if you practice in an area with low incidences of COVID-19 and robust testing, the chances of treating a patient who is COVID-19 positive is lower,” Liddell told ADA News. “And the opposite is true if you practice in an area in which the cases are increasing.”

ADA president Chad P. Gehani assembled the task force in April to oversee the ADA’s development of tools for dental professionals amid COVID-19.

Prior to the hazard assessment tool. the ADA task force issued its Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit.