Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most all workers are required to wear facial coverings and masks on the job—no matter the industry. And, employers would surely benefit from expert PPE recommendations.
For that reason, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries recently designed a new e-tool to help employers choose the most appropriate mask or respirator, based on the risk level of their employees.
While the tool is not meant to be used by hospitals, clinics or other treatment facilities, it is a good resource to help other employers decide whether a face covering, mask, or respirator is the best PPE for their workers.
Any worker or employer can access the tool online. When they do, they’ll be prompted by several questions, such as whether they work alone or with others, indoors or outdoors, or in a vehicle alone or with others. Their answers allow the tool to make PPE recommendations based on what’s necessary for each specific environment.
Examples of PPE Recommendations
Here are a few examples of those PPE recommends for different workplace situations:
- Working or driving alone:
- No mask is required if you are driving alone or isolated while working indoors or outside, and have little or no expectation of an in-person interruption. However, a cloth face covering is recommended in the case of unanticipated in-person encounters.
- Working outside around others:
- If you work outside around others but keep at least 6 feet away except to pass by occasionally, a cloth face mask is recommended.
- If you work outside around others, but must work within 6 feet several times a day for several minutes, a face mask is required.
- If you work within 3 feet of others throughout the day, a face mask must be worn. If you are in an enclosed space, a NIOSH-approved respirator is required such as an N-95.
- Working in a vehicle with others:
- If you work in a vehicle with others who are presumed to be healthy, a cloth covering is recommended if you are feet apart in a well ventilated cab. If you are closer, a mask is usually required.
- If you are transporting people who are symptomatic, probable, or known COVID-19, then a mask is required.
- Working indoors with others:
- A cloth face covering is recommended for those who work indoors, yet are able to stay 6 feet away from coworkers during the majority of the day.
- A mask is required if working in closer contact with co-workers.
- NIOSH approved masks and respirators are recommended for those who must work in close proximity to those with COVID-10.
The PPE recommendations e-tool includes additional resources such as videos on how to properly put on and take off masks, FAQs about facial coverings, and a link to Washington L&I’s Which Mask for Which Task? guidance document.
Enforcing OSHA’s Respiratory Standard
In fiscal year 2019, respiratory protection finished fifth on the list among OSHA’s top-10 most-cited violations.
Five hundred eighteen (518) violations occurred because employees did not receive medical evaluations to determine their ability to use respirators. For some, wearing a respirator impairs breathing, especially for older employees or those with asthma. It also affects vision and triggers panic attacks.
Thus, employees must be evaluated before they are fit tested, according to OSHA standard 1910.134(e)(1). That section states that “the employer shall provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator, before the employee is fit tested or required to use a respirator in the workplace.”
Even if the respirator is only used for a short period of time, it may trigger breathing difficulties and claustrophobia.
Evaluating and fitting employers out of order can lead to steep OSHA fines — up to $13,260 per violation for serious violations, and up to $132,598 for repeat or willful violations.
Schedule Your Respirator Fit Testing & Get Your Respirator Clearances Online Today
At Worksite Medical, we’re here to help you and your team stay safe and healthy in the most convenient way possible.
That’s why we bring all of your workplace medical surveillance testing to your job site, when you need it. Don’t risk sending your team to a public health clinic. Let us bring the testing to you!
First, make sure to schedule your respirator fit testing, along with any other testing you may need (audiometric exams, physicals, drug testing, etc.). You can do all of that by completing the form below.
Then, get your team medically cleared to wear respirators online right now with these easy steps:
- Complete your respirator clearance questionnaire on a computer or mobile device, then submit;
- The completed respirator clearance questionnaire will be reviewed by our staff PLHCP Medical Provider;
- A respirator clearance certificate will be issued to you instantly, if successful.
Respirator clearance classifications include:
- Class I: No restrictions on respirator use.
- Class II: Respirator use for Emergency Response or Escape Only
- Class III: Respirator use is not permitted
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Keep your company and your employees in compliance with onsite medical surveillance testing. And, make sure to use the Department of Labor’s e-tool for your specific PPE recommendations.
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests (including N95 masks), as well as pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.
With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!