08 Apr OSHA Eases Enforcement of Respiratory Protection Standards During N95 Shortage
In response to a shortage of disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued enforcement guidance that allows its Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) to use discretion when enforcing certain respiratory protection rules.
The guidance encourages employers to identify any changes they can make to decrease their need for disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators (N95s). If respiratory protection must be used, employers may consider using alternative classes of respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared to an N95, such as non-disposable, elastomeric respirators or powered, air-purifying respirators.
When these alternatives are not available, or where their use creates additional safety or health hazards, the guidance allows CSHOs to permit the extended use or reuse of N95s, or use of N95s that were approved but have passed the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life (expired).
This guidance applies in all industries, including those with workplaces in which workers are exposed to COVID-19. It takes effect immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. This Compliance Bulletin provides the text of the guidance.