OSHA Suspends Annual Fit Testing for N95 FFRs in Healthcare
OSHA released temporary guidance March 14 that suspends the requirement for annual fit testing of N95 filtering facepiece respirators for protecting healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance permits compliance officers to forego enforcement of the fit-testing requirement for employers who meet several conditions. These conditions include making a good-faith effort to comply with OSHA’s respiratory protection standard; using only NIOSH-certified respirators; and implementing strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 FFRs. The guidance also recommends that healthcare employers use qualitative instead of quantitative fit testing of N95 respirators and encourages employers to provide healthcare workers with respirators of equal or higher protection to N95s, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air-purifying respirators. The temporary guidelines went into effect on March 14 and will stay in effect until further notice. For more information, read OSHA’s March 14 memo to regional administrators.
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