DAPA has received a number of calls from dental assistants in Victoria seeking clarification on workplace safety and restrictions. To all our members and colleagues in Victoria, we are supporting you and understand your frustration during this time. To provide some form of clarification, we have included the main information links which are relevant to dental, but as we hear of some extremely concerning issues occurring in dental practices, we would encourage members to contact this association if you have legitimate concerns for your safety at work.
All employers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of their employees so you should not be asked to perform duties or conduct any activity which places you in a compromising or dangerous situation. In Victoria, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 requires employers to:
Provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to health for your employees, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Consult employees on matters that may directly affect their health, safety and welfare.
Give your employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.
Ensure that the conduct of your business does not endanger other people (including visitors, the public and other workers).
5th August -Latest update from Dept of Health and Human Services Victoria
Dentists are restricted to providing urgent care only.
Under the Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Area) (No 6), effective as at 5 August 2020 from 11:59pm, all public and private health services including dentists for urgent care are permitted workplaces. Therefore, all dental practices in metropolitan Melbourne can operate as a permitted workplace but must only provide urgent care.
Latest communique from the Dental Board of Australia:
explains the position of the DBA, and encourages all registered practitioners to undertake a risk assessment approach when determining clinic operations.
"All dental practitioners should consider the current risk environment and public safety when making decisions about whether to defer non-urgent or elective dental services."
The Victorian Branch of the ADA provides a comprehensive list of resources and information, much of which is available to both members and non members
In consultation with the Chief Health Officer, the Health Minister, the ADA Infection Control Committee, DHHS and DHSV, and as per the advice from the Dental Board of Australia, the ADAVB provided the following guidelines:
Metropolitan Melbourne - Level 3 dental restrictions from Friday 7 August 2020
Regional Victoria - Level 2 dental restrictions from Friday 7 August 2020"
There is a strong recommendation for practices to observe these restriction level guidelines and meet their OHS obligations and indemnity insurance responsibilities.
COVID Safe Plan
Under the Stage 4 restrictions, there are new requirements for businesses. Certain services and industries will be able to remain operational and will be required by law to have a COVID Safe Plan.Under the Stage 4 restrictions, workplaces that remain open must:
have a COVID Safe Plan in place that is regularly updated (unless you are a small business with fewer than 5 employees)
ensure that any workers that can work from home are able to do so
collect records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer (certain exemptions will apply)
one worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace or in shared areas
unless an exemption applies, ensure that workers do not work across multiple sites, or for multiple employers
ensure that workers are in good health - workers cannot work if they are unwell and employers must not require workers with symptoms to work
Your COVID Safe Plan must set out:
Your actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
How you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
This plan must demonstrate how you will meet all of the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.
Workplace Attendance Register
From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, employers must issue a worker permit to their employees. Employees must carry the worker permit and photo identification when travelling to and from work - the permit can be shown electronically on a mobile device.
There are many essential resources available from the ADA Inc website:
These resources provide important guides for Managing COVID-19, the decision tree for patient management during COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions and an exposure response plan.
Above all, a robust infection prevention and control protocol must be established. Environmental cleaning is paramount with regular cleaning of commonly touched areas using one wipe or cloth per surface and wiping in one direction. Transmission based precautions which apply to droplet and airborne transmission should be implemented where standard precautions may not be sufficient.
Please contact us if you require more information or support.
Our office is open Mon- Wed 10am - 4pm. Phone contact is 02 9569 3220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org