New OSHA Guidance for COVID-19 and AHCA/NCAL OSHA Resources

COVID-19; Programs and Resources

​​AHCA/NCAL now has an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respiratory ​Protection Plan Template​ developed by our OSHA Experts at Littler. Providers should note that if respirators are being used (such as N95s) you must have a Respiratory Protection Program in place to comply with OSHA standards. OSHA has fined long term care providers for not having the protection plan in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The template is designed to be reviewed and tailored by each individual facility. Facilities should review the Respiratory Protection Standard (29.C.F.R. 1910.134)

OSHA has released guidance for enforcement discretion when considering issuing citations for respirators and fit testing. This guidance applies only to fit-testing of NIOSH-approved tight-fitting Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) used as a contingency capacity strategy when performing job tasks with high or very high occupational exposure risk to COVID-19. It does not apply to:

  • PAPRs that have not been approved by NIOSH;
  • PAPRs used by any workers with low or medium exposure risk to COVID-19;
  • PAPRs used by any workers for protection against airborne hazards other than COVID-19 (e.g., chemical hazards); and
  • Loose-fitting hooded PAPRs that do not require fit-testing. 
Due to N95 shortages, employers should prioritize the use of fit-testing supplies to protect employees who must use respirators for high risk procedures. 
OSHA will, on a case-by-case basis, exercise enforcement discretion when considering issuing citations for fit-testing and respirators when an employer has:

  • Provided NIOSH-approved tight-fitting PAPRs to protect personnel against COVID-19 using a high efficiency (HE) particulate cartridge or filter, when initial and/or annual fit-testing is infeasible due to shortages of N95, N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, and P100 respirators and/or fit-testing supplies;
  • Monitored fit-testing supplies and made good faith efforts to obtain fit-testing supplies;
  • Implemented, to the extent feasible, engineering controls, work practices, and/or administrative controls that reduce the need for respiratory protection, such as using partitions, restricting access, and cohorting patients; and
  • Maintained a fully-compliant RPP, other than fit-testing requirements, including ensuring personnel are informed of new policies and trained on new procedures, ensuring employees receive required medical evaluations, ensuring batteries and filters for PAPRs are well maintained to provide positive pressure throughout the entire shift or procedure, and ensuring employees wearing tight-fitting PAPRs maintain neatly trimmed facial hair that does not compromise the seal of the respirator or come between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face, and that does not interfere with valve function.

Please note - Where the above efforts are absent and respiratory protection use is required, or voluntary use is permitted, and an employer fails to comply with applicable medical evaluation, fit-testing, maintenance, care, and training requirements, citations can be issued. 

OSHA issued frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 reporting obligations. In the FAQs, OSHA has clarified what is considered an “incident” in the case of COVID-19, which triggers the time period for calculating whether a case meets the reportability criteria. The term “incident” is defined by OSHA as an exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace as opposed to when an employee develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. Additional information on reporting in-patient hospitalizations and employee deaths, including OSHA’s definition of in-patient hospitalizations can be found in the updated AHCA/NCAL OSHA resource on reporting and recording OSHA standards.