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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued temporary enforcement guidance loosening its respiratory gear requirements that certain workers be fit-tested and issued personal protective equipment approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
In a memo dated Oct. 2, OSHA said it will exercise “enforcement discretion” for health care personnel or “any other workers in high or very high exposure risk activities,” such as emergency responders, mortuary workers and laboratory workers, “because of supply shortages” of required and approved masks and fit-testing supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The five-page memo outlines alternatives to the NIOSH-approved masks to be “used under contingency and crisis capacity strategies that involve extended use, as well as decontamination and reuse.”
OSHA said it will “on a case-by-case basis, exercise enforcement discretion when considering issuing citations” in cases where the employer has provided protection yet finds annual fit-testing “infeasible due to shortages” of certain supplies; has “monitored fit-testing supplies and made good faith efforts to obtain fit-testing supplies”; has implemented “to the extent feasible” engineering controls, work practices, and/or administrative controls that reduce the need for respiratory protection, such as using partitions and restricting access; and maintained a fully compliant respiratory protection program.
More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.