OSHA Unmasks New Pandemic Respirator Guidance
The guidance provides discretion when enforcing OSHA's standards
On April 3, 2020, the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released temporary enforcement guidance to employers currently faced with a shortage of N95 respirator masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance provides discretion when enforcing OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard and applies to all industries.
The Respiratory Protection standard contains various requirements, including a written program, medical evaluation, fit-testing, and training, that employers must follow to ensure workers are provided with and are properly using appropriate respiratory protection when necessary to protect their health. Employers are still required to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in their workplace, and provide an appropriate respirator when it is necessary to protect the health of the employee.
However, noting that the United States is in short supply of appropriate respirators at this time, the new guidance provides that, on a case-by-case basis, OSHA may choose not to issue citations where an employer is making a good faith effort to comply and is prioritizing respirator use appropriately.
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