OSHA expanded its temporary guidance for respirator fit-testing during the COVID-19 pandemic to all industries as of April 8.
Temporary guidance the agency issued March 14 regarding COVID-19-related supply shortages of N95 and other facepiece respirators in the healthcare industry is now expanded to all workplaces where there is required respirator use.
OSHA field offices will exercise enforcement discretion concerning annual fit-testing requirements as long as the employer makes good-faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Respiratory Protection standard and follows the steps outlined in the March 14 guidance, according to a Department of Labor news release.
Consider other controls first
Employers are encouraged to assess engineering controls, work practices and administrative controls on an ongoing basis to identify changes that could be made to reduce the need for N95 and other filtering facepiece respirators.
For example, employers should consider if it’s possible to increase the use of wet methods or portable exhaust systems or to move operations outdoors. In some instances, employers may want to consider temporarily suspending certain non-essential operations.
Due to concerns about shortages of fit-testing kits and test solutions, OSHA recommends prioritizing “use of fit-testing equipment to protect employees who must use respirators for high-hazard procedures.”
If fit-testing is not possible and a user’s respirator model is out of stock, employers should consult the manufacturer for recommendations on a different model that fits similarly to the model used previously by employees.
Field offices may exercise additional enforcement discretion when an employer switches to an equivalent-fitting respirator without first performing an initial quantitative or qualitative fit test.
This expanded guidance will remain in effect until further notice but is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.
More information involving COVID-19
Marijuana legalization and medically regulated opioid use complicates your ability to drug test your workers. And now, the rules for drug testing employees are being modified in the face of COVID-19.
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- Medical cannabis policies
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