OSHA Seeks Comments on Guidance for Pandemic Flu Stockpiling

OSHA invites comments on its document "Proposed Guidance on Workplace Stockpiling of Respirators and Facemasks for Pandemic Influenza,” which is designed to encourage employers in the private and public sectors to purchase and stock facemasks and respirators in the event of an influenza pandemic.

This guidance is important, OSHA said, because manufacturing capacity at the time of an outbreak would not meet the expected demand for respiratory protection devices during a pandemic. Through advanced planning and stockpiling, employers can able to better protect their employees as well as lessen the impact of a pandemic on their business, society and the economy.

OSHA encourages interested parties to comment on all aspects of the proposed guidance. The agency particularly is interested in addressing the following questions:

  • Is the guidance clear and useful in helping employers determine if they should stockpile respirators and/or facemasks for their employees and the quantity of each device that should be stockpiled?
  • Are there any parts of the guidance that are not clear and if so, how can they be clarified?
  • Do the underlying assumptions used to estimate stockpiling needs, as well as cost estimates, for various types of facemasks and respirators appear to be appropriate? If not, please explain why you feel they are inappropriate and suggest an alternative and the rationale for this alternative.
  • If you already have addressed stockpiling needs for your facility, could you please provide your underlying assumptions and methodology?
  • Are employers that should stockpile respirators and/or facemasks currently stockpiling these devices and if not, how can the guidance be modified to encourage them to begin stockpiling?

Comments must be submitted by July 8, 2008. The proposed guidance is available on OSHA's Web site at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/guidance/stockpiling-facemasks-respirators.html.

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