OSHA issues guidance regarding shortages of N95 respirators

April 6, 2020

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued interim enforcement guidance to help combat supply shortages of disposable N95 filtering face piece respirators, according to www.osha.gov. The action marks the department’s latest step to ensure the availability of respirators and follows President Trump’s Memorandum on Making General Use Respirators Available.

Because of the effects on workplace conditions caused by limited supplies of N95 respirators, employers should reassess their engineering controls, work practices and administrative controls to identify changes they can make to decrease the need for N95 respirators.

If respiratory protection must be used, employers may consider use of alternative classes of respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared with an N95 respirator, such as National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved, nondisposable, 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 respirators, or use of N95 respirators 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; it is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 web page regularly for updates.

To view more COVID-19 information relevant to the roofing industry, be sure to visit NRCA’s COVID-19 Resources for Roofing Contractors page.

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