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Respiratory Guidance for COVID-19

Respirator guidance

More businesses are requiring employees to wear masks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 respirator (filtering facepiece) poster highlights the following:

  • Wash your hands before you put on a mask and before you take it off.
  • Inspect it for damage or dampness before wearing it, and don’t touch it once it’s on.
  • If you don’t have to reuse it because of supply shortages, dispose of it in a trash can and wash your hands once again.

OSHA created the downloadable poster and a video for employers and workers about the best way to put on and take off a respirator. More businesses are requiring employees to wear masks to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The instructions from OSHA include a technique to ensure a secure mask fit:

  • When you first put the respirator on, put both hands over it. Inhale and exhale quickly.
  • If you feel air leaking from the edges or around the nose, adjust the straps or the metal nosepiece (if your mask has one).
  • Repeat until you get a proper seal. If you can’t, try a different mask.

Downloadable personal protective equipment posters

OSHA respiratory protection training videos

This OSHA page, Respiratory Protection Training Video, contains links to a variety of training videos related to respiratory protection. 

Topics include fit testing, medical evaluations, respiratory protection in general industry, respirator types, voluntary use of respirators, respiratory protection in construction, training requirements, respiratory protection for health care workers, the differences between respirators and surgical masks, donning and doffing, counterfeit respirators, maintenance and care, and the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard ( 1910.134). Many are offered in both English and Spanish.

Strategies to optimize the supply of PPE and equipment

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention site, Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment, offers optimization strategies for PPE when supplies are stressed, running low or absent. Contingency strategies can help stretch PPE supplies when shortages are anticipated

The site also provides information regarding reusing disposable filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) as a crisis capacity strategy to conserve available supplies for health care environments during a pandemic. Strategies for FFR extended use and reuse (without decontamination of the respirator) are currently available from the  CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

These considerations are intended for use by federal, state and local public health officials; respiratory protection program managers; leaders in occupational health services and infection prevention and control programs; and other leaders in health care settings who are responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures for preventing pathogen transmission in health care settings.   

More respirator optimization information from the CDC: 

Important Information About Your Cloth Face Coverings

CDC published a downloadable poster (CS-316651-A 05/04/2020) for the use of cloth face coverings. CDC describes the difference between N95 respirator and cloth face coverings in this publication and why personal protective equipment (PPE) like N95 respirator should be used by health care personnel, first responders, and workers in other industries for their protection.  

CDC also recommends a cloth face covering not to be shared with anyone else unless it's washed and dried first. Download the document to get more details.  

Important Information About Your Cloth Face Coverings