OSHA Advises Businesses to Assess Respiratory Protection
April 7, 2020—The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim enforcement guidance to help combat supply shortages of disposable N95 respirators, according to a press release.
N95 respirators are the PPE most often used to control exposures to infections transmitted via the airborne route, according to the CDC.
Due to the impact on workplace conditions caused by limited supplies of N95 masks, employers should reassess their work practices to identify any changes they can make to reduce the need for N95 respirators.
Here are recommended alternatives to N95 masks:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved, non-disposable, elastomeric respirators or powered, air-purifying respirators.
- Extended use or reuse of N95 respirators.
- N95 respirators that were approved but have passed the manufacturer's recommended shelf life.
- PAPRs are reusable respirators that are typically loose-fitting hoods or helmets.
Both OSHA and the CDC recommend business owners look into adjusting engineering controls and administrative controls to also help reduce the need for the respirators. Engineering controls reduce exposures for HCP by placing a barrier between the hazard and the HCP. Administrative controls are employer-dictated work practices and policies that reduce or prevent hazardous exposures.