A new OSHA resource helps employers understand and comply with OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard during COVID-19.
Because COVID-19 has drastically impacted the availability of respirators and fit-testing supplies, OSHA’s guidance is intended to help employers understand and comply with temporary enforcement for the Respiratory Protection standard.
The demand for respirators, particularly N-95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), as well as fit-testing supplies, has resulted in a shortage of supplies.Shortages, and the need to ensure frontline health care works have these supplies, have resulted in many employers having to use other face coverings not usually considered compliant with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard.
Examples of contingency strategies include: extended use of disposable FFRs, decontamination and reuse of disposable FFRs, and the use of foreign FFRs not approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
While deviations from normal respirator use come with increased risk for workers, in certain circumstances, they may be allowable during COVID since no respiratory protection presents a greater risk to workers.
More information on OSHA’s Temporary Enforcement Guidance and what to do if you are an employer seeking relief under temporary enforcement guidance can be found here.