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OSHA Approves Additional Respirators for Those at High Risk of COVID-19 Exposure

Oct. 8, 2020
The temporary guidance will help ensure the availability of respirators during the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued temporary guidance for certain respirators, the latest effort to ensure their availability during the pandemic.

Effective immediately, the new enforcement permits the use of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved tight-fitting powered air-purifying respirators when initial and/or annual fit testing isn’t feasible because respirator and fit-testing supply shortages.

This guidance applies only to healthcare personal and other workers in high or very high exposure risk activities. It does not apply to powered air-purifying respirators that are not approved by NIOSH, are loose fitting and do not require fit testing, are used by workers with low or medium coronavirus exposure risk, or for protection against any other airborne hazards.

“If respiratory protection must be used, employers may consider the use of alternative classes of respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared to a N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator, such as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, and P100 respirators and NIOSH-approved, non-disposable elastomeric respirators or powered air-purifying respirators, either loose-fitting or tight-fitting,” according to a statement.

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