Safety

OSHA seeks comments on draft respirator supply guidance

Hospital Safety Insider, May 14, 2008

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OSHA released an interesting draft guidance on stockpiling respirators and facemasks during an influenza pandemic.

Among the highlights of the draft guidance:

  • OSHA estimates that 33% of hospital employees will have very high or high exposure risks during a pandemic, and as a result facilities will need to provide four N-95 respirators per employee per work shift. OSHA estimates a typical hospital employee facing exposure will need 480 N-95s over the course of a community pandemic.
  • Strictly from the perspective of purchasing costs, it may be cheaper to equip workers with reusable elastomeric respirators rather than N-95s or powered air-purifying respirators. Elastomeric respirators have flexible, rubber-like facepieces with either permanent or removable filter cartridges.
  • Hospitals should stock two facemasks per day for each inpatient who shows flu symptoms during a pandemic, and three facemasks per day for each essential visitor (e.g., parents of pediatric patients).
The agency will take public comments on the draft through July 8. For details about submitting your thoughts, click here.



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