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Pandemic Flu Respiratory Protection - OSHA

Release Date: June 19, 2009

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided guidance concerning the need for respiratory protection during a pandemic flu situation. The general consensus is that influenza viruses are transmitted by droplets in the air and contact with a contaminated surface. However, this transmission could also occur by small particulates, and the use of an approved respirator is recommended.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), NOT OSHA, certifies respirators for use. During a pandemic, when worker exposure to flu patients is anticipated, the N-95, NIOSH certified respirator is the minimum qualified respirator recommended for use during the current pandemic and should be disposed of and not cleaned for reuse. Note that a surgical mask is not a respirator.

Procedures for using the N-95 respirator:

OSHA guidance on who should wear a respirator:

"Very High Exposure Risk" Workers with high potential exposure to known or suspected sources of pandemic virus during specific medical or laboratory procedures for example, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopy, some dental procedures, invasive specimen collection, or manipulating lab cultures. These workers may need supplied-air or powered air-purifying respirators.

"High Exposure Risk" Workers with a high potential for exposure to known or suspected pandemic sources - for example, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who enter patients' rooms; and emergency responders transporting sick patients.

Other Workers whose work may not normally put them at Very High or High Exposure Risk but who, during a pandemic, are performing high-risk tasks, such as isolating and quarantining people who are ill.

Additionally, OSHA recommends that respirators must be used in the context of a comprehensive respiratory protection program, as described in OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.134 found at

The above information comes from the OSHA Quick Card found at and from the Minnesota Department of Health at

COPYRIGHT ©2009, ISO Services Properties, Inc.

The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services Properties, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.

COPYRIGHT ©2009, ISO Services Properties, Inc.