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Dept. of Labor issues guidance for respiratory protection during N95 shortage

Elastomeric respirators or powered, air-purifying respirators, and expired N95s are allowable alternatives

April 24, 2020 |

Courtesy Pixabay

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim enforcement guidance to help combat supply shortages of disposable N95 filtering face piece respirators (N95 FFRs).

Due to the impact on workplace conditions caused by limited supplies of N95 FFRs, OSHA says employers should reassess engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls to identify any changes that could decrease the need for N95 respirators. Employers may consider use of alternative classes of respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared to an N95 FFR.

Alternatives include National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved, 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, employers may consider extended use or reuse of N95 FFRs, or use of N95 FFRs that were approved but have since passed the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life, under specified conditions.

This interim guidance will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice, OSHA says.

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