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Business Guidance

OSHA Eases Enforcement of Respiratory Protection Standards During N95 Shortage

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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).

View our whitepaper for further guidance that 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 is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Design ©2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.