The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures safe and healthful working conditions for employees by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
The COVID-19 outbreak has increased demand for N95 filtering face piece respirators (N95 FFRs), limiting availability for workers in healthcare and emergency response. On April 3, 2020, OSHA issued interim guidance for employers to combat the supply shortages of N95 FFRs and to comply with the respiratory protection standard (29 CFR § 1910.134). This guidance will remain in effect until further notice and applies in all industries.
Employers must continue to manage their respiratory protection programs and be mindful of N95 FFR shortages. Specifically, employers should identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace, and develop and implement written respiratory protection programs. Businesses should reassess their engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls to identify any changes they can make to decrease the need for N95 FFRs. Some examples provided in the guidance include using portable local exhaust systems or moving operations outdoors. Employers may also consider temporarily suspending non-essential operations, to the extent such operations are not already suspended due to state mandates.
Reprinted courtesy of L. Stephen Bowers, White and Williams LLP and Joshua Tumen, White and Williams LLP
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