Law & Order

OSHA Provides Guidance on Face Masks and Respirators

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two memos providing guidance to employers on the use of face coverings for workers. Recognizing that the federal government has encouraged non-healthcare employers to donate N-95 respirators to healthcare workers, OSHA is giving employers limited relief from OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard during the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, the first memo gives employers relief to extend the use of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators and to permit the reuse of them. The second memo allows employers in certain circumstances to use respirators approved by other countries when a NIOSH-approved respirator is unavailable.

In related news, on April 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. This recommended practice is in addition to maintaining 6-ft. social distancing. The simple cloth face coverings may be made from common materials and are not to be surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at