Cal/OSHA releases new guidance for health care facilities on use of N95 masks and other respirators

August 25, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Hospitals and Health Facilities 

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, on August 6, 2020, released interim guidance for health care employers that may be facing shortages of respirators during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the supply chain for respirators (such as N95 masks) has improved, it is not yet fully restored, according to Cal/OSHA. The latest guidelines replace the previous guidance published in mid-June.

The updated guidance requires covered employers to provide and ensure the use of NIOSH certified particulate respirators by all employees occupationally exposed to novel pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The update guidance also includes new optimization strategies to reduce the use and destruction of respirators, including:

  • Relaxing fit testing requirements to allow less frequent fit testing if appropriate;
  • Allowing employees to wear their own respirator if it complies with Cal/OSHA requirements;
  • Allowing the use of certain expired respirators; and
  • Procedures for extending the use of the respirators

This guidance, which can be viewed in full on the Cal/OSHA website, is subject to change as circumstances evolve.


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