On June 10th, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 exposure. The new standard focuses on establishing new safety requirements for those that provide healthcare or healthcare support services such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, emergency responders etc. This ETS is designed to provide a greater level of protection for workers when interacting with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
In the new ETS, OSHA encourages employers to select elastomeric respirators or PAPRs instead of filtering facepiece respirators as their primary choice of PPE. By choosing reusable forms of PPE, it is hoped that this will help to prevent shortages and supply chain disruption. In addition to this, when completing aerosol-generating procedures with suspected COVID-19 infected patients, OSHA also recommends that elastomeric respirators or PAPRs are used instead of filtering facepiece respirators.
As part of the ETS, employers must follow the rules and regulations as set out in the Mini Respiratory Program (1910.504) guidelines. Like a normal respiratory protection program, this is designed to support workers through the proper use of respirators, which includes respirator selection, face fit testing, storage, maintenance, cleaning and disinfecting, training etc. When these steps are not followed correctly, the respirator itself can become a hazard, and also place the business at risk of receiving citations.
For more detailed information about this ETS and how this may affect you and your workplace, refer to OSHA’s full document guidelines to ensure you’re doing everything you can to remain protected from COVID-19.
OSHA. (2021). COVID-19 Healthcare ETS. Retrieved from Occupational Safety and Health Administration: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets