OSHA Issues Guidance Amid N95 Respirator Shortage

Posted on 4/6/2020 by Roger Marks

Amid a shortage of N95 facepiece filtering masks In an enforcement guidance memo directed to its officers, OSHA recommends that employers facing a shortage of N95 filtering facepiece respirators, or FFRs, do the following: 
  • Reassess engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls to decrease the need for N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs); and/or 
  • Use alternative classes of NIOSH-approved respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared to the N95
The OSHA memo goes on to say that employers may consider extended use or re-use of N95 FFRs, but only when certain conditions are met.

Finally, use of expired N95 may be permitted when unavoidable. Use of expired N95s is permitted when the employer has made a “good faith effort” to acquire respirators, monitor and prioritize N95 use according to CDC guidance, and explore other feasible alternatives. 

Read OSHA’s full guidance here.

Read more: Coronavirus: Preventing Workplace Exposure 

What is An "N95 Mask"?

Filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) designated as N95 have been evaluated, tested, and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The "95" means these respirators are shown to block 95% or more of very small test particles. Test particles used are about 0.3 microns in size. For reference, filtration size for a typical coffee filter is around 20 microns.

These filtering facepiece respirators or FFRs are tight fitting, and a seal check is required each time the respirator is donned (i.e., put on). Ideally, these respirators would be discarded after each patient encounter or contact, or when they become damaged, deformed, dirty, wet, or contaminated with blood or fluids. If the respirator no longer forms an effective seal on the face, or if breathing becomes difficult, the N95 should be discarded (ideally). 

OSHA Safety Training On Demand

Lion’s expanded OSHA safety training course catalog includes training that may be required for healthcare personnel and other employees at risk of exposure to novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Browse all OSHA safety courses at

Tags: coronavirus, healthcare, osha, respiratory protection, workplace safety

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The instructor clearly enjoys his job and transmits that enthusiasm. He made a dry subject very interesting and fun.

Teresa Arellanes

EHS Manager

I was recently offered an opportunity to take my training through another company, but I politely declined. I only attend Lion Technology workshops.

Stephanie Gilliam

Material Production/Logistics Manager

The course is well thought out and organized in a way that leads to a clearer understanding of the total training.

David Baily

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The price was reasonable, the time to complete the course was manageable, and the flexibility the online training allowed made it easy to complete.

Felicia Rutledge

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Given the choice, I would do all coursework this way. In-person courses go very fast without the opportunity to pause or repeat anything.

Ellen Pelton

Chemical Laboratory Manager

Lion Technology workshops are amazing!! You always learn so much, and the instructors are fantastic.

Dorothy Rurak

Environmental Specialist

Well designed and thorough program. Excellent summary of requirements with references. Inclusion of regulations in hard copy form, as well as full electronic with state pertinent regulations included is a great bonus!

Oscar Fisher

EHS Manager

I have over 26 years of environmental compliance experience, and it has been some time since I have attended an environmental regulations workshop. I attended this course as preparation for EHS Audits for my six plants, and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Frank Sizemore

Director of Regulatory Affairs

This was the 1st instructor that has made the topic actually enjoyable and easy to follow and understand. Far better than the "other" training providers our company has attended!

Lori Hardy

Process & Resource Administrator

As always, Lion never disappoints

Paul Resley

Environmental Coordinator

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Decrease spill, release, and injury risk and increase savings with these "source reduction" strategies to prevent unused chemicals from becoming regulated as hazardous waste.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.