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OSHA Releases Interim Guidance on Respirator Reuse and Decontamination

In light of the essential need for adequate supplies of respirators, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released interim guidance on respirator reuse and decontamination. Specifically, due to the impact on workplace conditions caused by limited supplies of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), the guidance states that employers should reassess their engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls to identify any changes they can make to decrease the need for respirators.

The interim guidance further states that if respiratory protection must be used, and acceptable alternatives are not available for use in accordance with OSHA’s previous COVID-19 enforcement memoranda, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has identified limited available research that suggests the following methods offer the most promise for decontaminating FFRs:

(1) Vaporous hydrogen peroxide;

(2) Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation; and/or

(3) Moist heat (e.g., using water heated in an oven).

If such methods are not available, the above-referenced NIOSH-evaluated research showed the following methods could also be suitable decontamination options:

(1) Microwave-generated steam; and/or

(2) Liquid hydrogen peroxide.

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