The coronavirus pandemic has upended businesses and industries across the country. Suddenly, business owners are having to adjust to a new normal, which includes receiving a crash course in respiratory protection. Many companies have never been subject to occupational health and safety regulations around respiratory protection and are now unintentionally violating them because they are unfamiliar with the rules and laws.
With OSHA’s new Guidance on Returning to Work, businesses previously not needing masks are suddenly having to wear masks and adhere to a respiratory protection program. This is unfamiliar territory for many. It’s imperative to stay well-informed with all the changes and updates from OSHA.
Since the beginning of the virus, OSHA has cited 85 companies for COVID-19 violations, including failure to implement a written respiratory protection program, failure to provide a medical evaluation before respirator use and improper training on respirator use.
Recently, a small dental practice in Georgetown, MA was fined nearly $10,000 for violations against the new coronavirus protection protocols. Specifically, the practice was fined for failing to provide medical evaluations for their employees as well as fit testing for those wearing N95 respirators. Also, the dental practice was lacking a sufficient written respiratory protection program.
It’s understandable for a business that usually doesn’t require respiratory protection to be unaware of the standards put in place by OSHA. But it’s critical for business owners to understand - for safety, their reputation and their bottom line.
Industries and businesses new to Respiratory Protection Standards
For many jobs, social distancing is simply not an option. Industries with services that require close physical proximity between the employee and customer/client may be unfamiliar with the OSHA regulations. For instance, the beauty industry offers a variety of services – such as cosmetology (hair, nails and skin care) as well as tattooing and piercing – all of which require physical touch. In this work, respiratory protection and frequent sanitation of their hands, equipment and work area is critical.
Clinics, dental practices and optometry practices are other examples of businesses that cannot modify their interactions with people. Cloth masks and social distancing aren’t enough to protect their employees and patients. All business must be conducted the same as before, with extra precautions. While this may come as a surprise, many nurses, doctors, dentists and other healthcare employees didn’t necessarily require respiratory protection before the pandemic.
The coronavirus has changed the game for the transportation industry for the foreseeable future. Public transportation – airplanes, city buses, trains, subways, taxis as well as services like Uber and Lyft are requiring masks, hand sanitation and social distancing. These new rules limit the number of passengers in order to adhere to the COVID-19 safety precautions.
How Examinetics can help
Examinetics has an arsenal of tools, resources and experts to help you create a thriving and comprehensive respiratory protection program. We have the experience to ensure your employees are wearing their respirators appropriately, and that employers are meeting all of the requirements of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134.
There may be an important step you are missing when it comes to respirator protection: respirator medical clearance. Too often, this step is an oversight for companies needing respiratory protection. With the pandemic in full swing, respirator medical clearance is more important than ever. The medical clearance process assesses each employee’s ability to wear a respirator safely, based on their own personal health status. It could actually be harmful for employees with certain medical conditions to wear certain types of respirators. Fortunately, Examinetics offers a convenient option for employees needing clearance with our online medical clearance process. It is easy, quick, confidential and mandatory for OSHA compliance.
We also offer respirator fit testing services in addition to our other respiratory compliance services.
If the virus has challenged your industry and threatened your employee’s safety, get in touch today.
For years, we have been helping our clients navigate the OSHA standard on respiratory protection. We have resources and information that may be specifically helpful to your workplace. Check out our OSHA compliant guides and information below.
- 2 Common Mistakes You’re Making with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Program - An in-depth look into two of the most frequently cited issues with respiratory protection: medical evaluations and fit testing.
- Voluntary Use of Respirators – a look into the voluntary use of respirators and what is required of the employer and the employees.
If you’re uncertain about how to adequately protect your employees while also trying to maintain compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, you’re not alone. Examinetics is here to help. We will partner with you to protect the safety of your employees, and assist you to achieve complete compliance, including a written respiratory protection plan, employee training, medical clearance and fit testing.
This is business-to-business information intended for EHS (environmental health and safety) professionals and not intended for the final consumer. Companies should check the local regulatory status of any claim according to their individual needs, requirements and intended use.