OSHA Issues Temporary Guidance for Enforcement of PAPR Fit-Testing
A new OSHA memo directs compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to use discretion when enforcing OSHA’s fit-testing requirements for NIOSH-approved, tight-fitting, powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) used for protection against SARS-CoV-2. The directive applies to PAPRs worn by healthcare personnel or other workers with high risk of exposure to the virus, and only when fit testing is infeasible due to shortages of respirators and fit-testing supplies.
The directive takes immediate effect and is intended to apply for the duration of the public health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not apply to PAPRs that are not NIOSH-approved; are used by workers with low to medium exposure risk; are used against airborne hazards other than SARS-CoV-2; or to hooded PAPRs that do not require fit testing.
The discretion granted by the OSHA directive will be applied case by case. When considering issuing citations under the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard requirements for fit-testing, CSHOs will consider whether the employer has made a good-faith effort to provide workers with correct personal protective equipment and fit-testing supplies; implemented controls to reduce the need for PPE; and maintained a fully compliant respiratory protection program.
Updates regarding this directive will be posted to OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage.