OSHA Issues Guidance on Respiratory Protection for Long-Term Care Facilities
OSHA 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 guidance advises the use of cloth face coverings, facemasks, or surgical masks by healthcare providers at all times while inside long-term care facilities (LTCFs), 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. The guidance further indicates that 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.