OSHA Addresses Compliance with Respiratory Protection Standard
A new document published by OSHA (PDF) is intended to help employers understand and comply with the agency’s respiratory protection standard during the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency announced. In response to shortages of respirators and fit-testing supplies, OSHA has issued temporary enforcement guidance concerning the extended use of disposable respirators, the decontamination and reuse of filtering facepiece respirators, and the use of respirators that are certified under standards of other countries but not approved by NIOSH. The agency’s guidance allows its compliance safety and health officers to exercise discretion in cases that involve an employer that has implemented contingency or crisis strategies for respirator use that are not compliant with OSHA’s respiratory protection standard under ordinary circumstances. OSHA stresses that “deviations from normal respirator use come with increased risk for workers” and states that employers are expected to come into full compliance once supply chain issues are resolved.