There is a renewed interest in filtering masks (facepieces) for use by our employees and half-mask respirators equipped with particulate filters. As a compliance reminder, let’s think about a few things;
Develop an infectious control program;
Download App D in 1910.134 and inform employees that are voluntarily using filtering facepieces or other respirators about usage, storage, disposal, limitations;
Don’t forget medical evaluation and respirator fit-testing requirements for those employees wearing ½ mask respirators that are the tight-fitting negative pressure type (NOT filtering facepieces);
Communicate with employees and
Post information regarding social distancing and “Safe At Work” requirements.
You are not required to pay for filter facepieces worn voluntarily, but it may be a good policy to provide these, as more sources of PPE become available. There are many good resources that provide us with procedures to follow, so I have tried to provide what
makes the most sense to us in industry. If you already have an infectious control plan,
great, just check to make sure you are addressing specific risks, exposure sources, routes of transmission, etc. If you do not have a plan, the best time to provide a pre-plan strategy is now. Here are some items to address during your COVID-19 pre-planning and in your written plan:
» Washing Facilities
Regardless of COVID-19 risk, all employers must provide washing facilities that have an adequate supply of suitable cleansing agents, water, and single-use towels.
» Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective equipment requires employers to conduct a hazard assessment to determine if hazards are present in the workplace that necessitate the use of PPE. If an employer identifies COVID-19 as a workplace hazard, they must select and provide exposed employees with properly fitting PPE that will effectively protect employees.
» Good Hygiene – Work Distancing
Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick. Develop flexible sick leave policies consistent with public health guidelines. Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes (with disposable cloth face masks). Discourage workers from using other workers' phones, desks, offices, or work tools. Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, and equipment. Make sure that all trash receptacles are emptied daily. Encourage the 6-foot distance rule, mark areas on floors and in break rooms so that employees can easily be reminded of this need.
» Isolation of Employees
Develop a policy for the immediate isolation of employees that exhibit signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19. Determine any other contact made with co-workers and promptly contact these workers to ask them to isolate at home. Pre-determine a good location for an isolation area that allows for restriction of personnel entering/leaving the area. Ensure the protection of any worker who needs to assist this symptomatic employee.
» Control of Harmful Exposures
Control of harmful exposures requires employers to protect employees from inhalation exposures that can result in injury, illness, disease, impairment, or loss of function. If there is a significantly increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, and therefore an increased risk of infection at the workplace, then engineering controls should be implemented and the hierarchy of controls should be activated.
Can we help provide guidance or partner with you to develop a plan? Let us know.