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OSHA has issued respiratory guidance focused on protecting workers in nursing homes, assisted living and other long term care facilities (LTCFs) from occupational exposure to COVID-19.

Control Measures

Under the guidance, health care providers should use source control measures, regardless of whether they present COVID-19 symptoms. Source control measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Face coverings;
  • Face masks; and
  • FDA-authorized surgical masks.

LTCF employees who work with residents that have (or are suspected to have) COVID-19 must use N95 filtering or high-level respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as required by OSHA’s respiratory protection standard.

With this guidance, OSHA encourages employers to reassess their administrative and engineering controls to prevent over-reliance on respirators and other personal protective equipment. If respirators are needed, OSHA is reminding employers to follow OSHA’s respiratory protection program and temporary enforcement discretion related to the respiratory protection standard during COVID-19.

Health care providers should use source control measures regardless of whether they present COVID-19 symptoms.

Employer Next Steps

Employers should evaluate their ventilation systems, social distancing practices, and sanitation and hygiene procedures to identify ways to reduce exposure to the coronavirus and prevent over-reliance on respirators.

In addition, LTCF employers must establish a respiratory protection program and become familiar with OSHA’s temporary enforcement guidelines when using respirators.

Important Resources

This Legal Update is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. ©2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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