Safety and OSHA News

Study suggests possible alternative during N95 respirator shortage

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looks at a potential alternative to N95 respirators in health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and had favorable findings. 

The study, led by a member of the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, looked at use of elastomeric half-mask respirators (EHMRs), which provide the same level of respiratory protection as N95 respirators.

EHMRs are reusable. They’re used in construction and manufacturing, but not widely used in health care because of uncertainty about disinfection methods and upfront costs.

The goal of the study was to test the feasibility of rapid training and fit testing for healthcare workers with EHMRs.

Promising results

Of 153 healthcare employees who participated, 124 were in the EHMR group and 29 were in the N95 group. Most had used respiratory protection before.

Findings were positive:

  • In the EHMR group, 92% passed fit testing during the first attempt compared with 88.5% in the N95 group
  • All participants passed by the third attempt
  • The mean time to complete fit testing for the EHMR group (six minutes, 47 seconds) wasn’t significantly different from the N95 group (six minutes, 29 seconds), and
  • EHMR participants’ performance scores (based on inspection, donning, positive-pressure user seal check, negative-pressure user seal check, doffing and disinfection) were high.

The study concluded:

  • “Health care personnel can be rapidly fit tested and trained to use the reusable EHMR”, and
  • “Combined with an [OSHA] respiratory protection program, the EHMR may serve as a suitable alternative to disposable N95 respirators during public health emergencies.”

The authors noted the limitations of the study included:

  • lack of data on actual use of EHMRs, and
  • a better understanding about the efficacy and feasibility of disinfection methods is needed.

More COVID-19 info for employers

Complying with the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is challenging because so much of the new law is long on legal mandates and what employers must do, but short on the details of how to do it. Employers are left confused and not sure where to start.

Our 75-minute workshop, Unpacking the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for Employers, provides up-to-date guidance on how to interpret what the Paid Sick Leave and expanded Family Medical Leave provisions of the FFCRA actually mean; and what employers need to do now to comply with the new mandates.

The workshop addresses:

  • How (and when) paid sick leave and expanded FMLA benefits laws interact
  • Calculating paid sick leave for your part-time workers
  • What if an employee refuses to come to work out of fear COVID-19 exposure?
  • How overtime hours factor into calculating wages for paid sick leave or FMLA
  • What are the penalties for not complying with the FFCRA?
  • How intermittent leave under traditional FMLA factors into the FFCRA
  • Bonus Handout – 6 QUALIFYING REASONS FOR PAID SICK LEAVE

A Note to Our Valued Attendees Impacted by COVID-19:

We understand that due to Covid-19, most people are working remotely and in multiple locations, so we’re granting access to accommodate such situations.

After registering, simply reply to your invite email with a list of all the folks who will need additional access links.

Click here for more information.

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