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.