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COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA issues respiratory protection guidelines for long-term care facilities

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Washington — OSHA has issued guidance intended to help employers in the long-term care industry protect the respiratory health of workers in nursing homes, assisted living and other LTC facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announced in an Oct. 30 press release, the guidance document provides an overview of “source control” measures, such as the use of cloth facial coverings, facemasks, and Food and Drug Administration-authorized surgical masks and respirators.

“Health care providers should wear source control products/devices at all times while they are in [an LTC facility], including in break rooms or other spaces where they might encounter other people, including co-workers,” the document states.

OSHA states that the source control device or product “should be appropriate for the anticipated exposure(s).”

 

In accordance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134), employees must use a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator or its equivalent – or a more protective respirator – if they are in close contact with a long-term care resident who is suspected of having or has COVID-19.

The document includes key steps employers should take and a link to OSHA’s Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respiratory Protection Standard. It also features information on the agency’s temporary enforcement discretion policy during the pandemic and additional resources.

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