February 6, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 37

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February 03, 2023

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OSHA Guidance on Respirator Fit-Testing in Health Care During COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 14, 2020, OSHA issued guidance for health care employers, which (1) temporarily waives the annual (not initial) fit-testing requirement for respirators, and (2) recommends discontinuing “quantitative” fit testing and instead using “qualitative” fit tests for health care workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

OSHA will exercise discretion during the COVID-19 outbreak and not issue citations to health care employers for violations of the annual fit testing requirement as long as they perform initial fit tests and satisfy a number of requirements including using only NIOSH-certified respirators, training employees on respirator use, and making a good faith effort to comply with other requirements under OSHA’s respiratory protection regulation. This guidance is intended to preserve the supply of respirators, since quantitative testing is destructive, and it was in response to President Trump’s March 11, 2020 directive for federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, to take steps to increase the availability of respirators for health care workers.

Also, OSHA recommends that employers supply health care workers who provide care to known or suspected coronavirus patients with N95 masks or “another respirator of equal or higher protection, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators.”

© 2023 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 78

About this Author

Scott Allen, Foley Lardner, litigation employer lawyer, labor attorney

Scott T. Allen is an associate and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice.

Prior to joining Foley, Mr. Allen served as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, and as a press assistant for U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln. During law school, he was a summer associate with Foley.

Mr. Allen earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., dean’s list, 2014). He served as a senior editor of The Tax Lawyer, and participated in...