WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued respiratory protection guidance focused on protecting workers in nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities (LTCFs) from occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus. The action marks the Department’s latest step to ensure the availability of respirators and follows President Donald J. Trump’s Memorandum on Making General Use Respirators Available.
Source control measures are recommended for everyone in healthcare facilities, including LTCFs, even if the wearer does not have symptoms of the coronavirus. The guidance describes various source control measures, including cloth face coverings, facemasks, and FDA-cleared or authorized surgical masks. Healthcare providers should wear source control products/devices at all times while inside a LTCF, including in breakrooms or other spaces where they might encounter other people.
Healthcare providers who are in close contact with a LTCF resident with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection must use a NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator or equivalent or higher-level respirator, as required by OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. Employers should reassess their engineering and administrative controls, such as ventilation and practices for physical distancing, hand hygiene, and cleaning/disinfecting surfaces, to identify changes that could avoid over-reliance on respirators and other personal protective equipment. In light of the essential need for adequate supplies of respirators during the coronavirus pandemic, OSHA has temporarily allowed for some enforcement flexibility regarding respirators. Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage for information on various respirator enforcement memoranda.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.