Wednesday, April 15, 2020

OSHA Issues Memoranda on Respiratory Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two separate enforcement memoranda related to the use of respirators by healthcare and non-healthcare employers. This includes all long term care providers: skilled nursing, assisted living, and ID/DD providers. The memoranda address issues facing employers regarding the respirator shortage, giving employers limited relief from OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard as a result from COVID-19.

The first memoranda gives employers relief to extend the use of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – approved respirators and to permit reuse of them. The second memoranda allows employers in certain circumstances to use respirators approved by another country, where NIOSH-approved respirators are not available.  Employers must exhaust all NIOSH-certified respirators prior to use non-NIOSH-certified respirators. You can read more details including the guidance on Littler’s website.

Be Prepared - OSHA Requirements for PPE
AHCA/NCAL has learned that some members and other health care entities are receiving letters from OSHA regarding lack of PPE. AHCA/NCAL has consulted with our outside consultants who recommend preparing a plan with the following information: 

  1. If you are running low on PPE, follow the CDC guidance and guidance from your local health department.  
  2. Have a plan in place that deals with potential exposure to COVID-19 for employees, for example, what happens if a staff member has respiratory or other symptoms indicative of COVID-19 or tests positive with COVID-19.  
  3. Communicate this plan to all staff often and have it available for staff to review.    
Recording workplace exposures to COVID-19 - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 
OSHA recordkeeping requirement at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log. While this requirement exempts recording of the common cold or flu, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job if the following are met:

  1. Case is confirmed COVID-19  
  2. The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5 and  
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 
Visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements page for more information.

AHCA/NCAL Resources

  • A form letter providers can fill in when responding to OSHA inquiries due to complaints regarding limited or unavailable PPE.  
  • A document on OSHA guidance when PPE is critically low or unavailable including steps providers can follow.  
  • An explanation of OSHA and CDC guidance on N95 respirators that are critically low or unavailable. This resource provides five options with guidance on what to do for a limited supply of N95 or other respirators to no N95 or other respirators available.  
  • A document with updated guidance from OSHA on employer recording and reporting requirements for COVID-19.  

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