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Personal protection equipement (PPE) is in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released guidence for worksites in regards to the enforcement of respriatory protection equipment.
Employers whose employeess are required to use respiratory protection equipement must continue to manage and provide these materials. However, due to the impact of the outbreak, employers should be aware of and take into account the possible shortage of available protection equipment.
To mitigate the need for repriatory equipment, employers should reassess work practices and/or administrative controls to idedntify ways to decrease the need for N95 masks where possible.
If respiratory protection must be used, employers can consider alternative classes of protective equipment such as N99, N100, R99, among others.
A full list of aproved grades of protective equipment can be found here.
In the event that extended use or reuse of N95 masks becomes necessary, workers are permitted to reuse respriatory masks that they themselves have worn so long as the mask is still in functional shape and has not been soiled or contaminated with blood, oil, etc.
This measure should be practiced only after an employer has made a good faith effort to obtain alternative filtering masks as noted above.
If respiratory equipment is being reused, employers should ensure workers are properly handling and storing reusable PPE in between shifts.
Read the full guidence from OSHA here.
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