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• Publication Date: 05/09/2008
• Publication Type: Notice
• Fed Register #: 73:26431-26433
• Title: Request for Comments on Proposed Guidance on Workplace Stockpiling of Respirators and Facemasks for Pandemic Influenza

[Federal Register: May 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 91)]
[Notices]               
[Page 26431-26433]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr09my08-106]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

[Docket No. OSHA-2008-0005]

 
Request for Comments on Proposed Guidance on Workplace 
Stockpiling of Respirators and Facemasks for Pandemic Influenza

AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor.

ACTION: Request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Labor is inviting comments on its document 
entitled "Proposed Guidance on Workplace Stockpiling of Respirators and 
Facemasks for Pandemic Influenza" (Proposed Guidance). The Proposed Guidance 
is available on OSHA's Web page and through its publications office. Interested 
persons may submit written or electronic comments on the Proposed Guidance as 
discussed below.

DATES: Written Comments: You must submit your comments by the following 
dates:
    Regular mail, hand-delivery, express delivery, messenger, or 
courier service: You must submit your comments (postmarked or sent) by 
July 8, 2008.
    Facsimile and electronic transmission: You must submit your 
comments by July 8, 2008. OSHA is providing the public with 60 days to 
submit comments on the Proposed Guidance on Workplace Stockpiling of 
Respirators and Facemasks for Pandemic Influenza.

ADDRESSES: 

I. Submitting Comments

    You may submit comments and information in response to this 
document as a hard copy, fax transmission (facsimile), or 
electronically. Submitted materials must include and clearly identify 
your name, date, and Docket No. OSHA-2008-0005 (the docket number 
associated with the Proposed Guidance), so OSHA can place them in the 
appropriate docket and, if necessary, attach them to your prior 
submissions.
    (1) Regular mail, hand-delivery, express delivery, messenger, or 
courier service: You must submit three copies of your comments and 
attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2008-0005, U.S. 
Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC 20210, telephone (202) 693-2350 (OSHA's TTY number is 
(877) 889-5627). The OSHA Docket Office and the Department of Labor 
hours of operation are 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., ET.
    Because of security-related procedures, the use of regular mail may 
cause a significant delay in the receipt of submissions. Please contact 
the OSHA Docket Office at: (202) 693-2350 (TTY (877) 899-5627) for 
information about security procedures concerning the delivery of 
materials by express delivery, hand delivery, and messenger service.
    (2) Facsimile: If your comments, including any attachments, do not 
exceed 10 pages, you may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 
693-1648. You must include the docket number of this document, Docket 
No. OSHA-2008-0005, in your comments.
    (3) Electronically: You may submit your comments and attachments 
electronically at: http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-
Rulemaking Portal. Information on using the http://www.regulations.gov 
Web site to submit these materials, and to access the docket, is 
available at the Web site's "User Tips" link. You may supplement 
electronic submissions by uploading document attachments and files 
electronically. If, instead, you wish to mail additional materials in 
reference to an electronic or fax submission, you must submit three 
copies to the OSHA Docket Office. As discussed above, submitted 
materials must include and clearly identify your name, date, and Docket 
No. OSHA-2008-0005. Contact the OSHA Docket Office for assistance in 
using the Internet to locate docket submissions.

II. Obtaining Copies of the Proposed Guidance

    You can download the Proposed Guidance from OSHA's Web site at 
http://www.osha.gov. A printed copy of the Proposed Guidance is 
available from the OSHA Office of Publications, Room N-3101, U.S. 
Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 
20210, or by telephone at (800) 321-OSHA (6742). You may fax your 
request for a copy of the Proposed Guidance to (202) 693-2498.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Levinson, Acting Director, 
Office of Biological Hazards, OSHA Directorate of Standards and 
Guidance, Room N-3718, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution 
Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210, telephone (202) 693-1950.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Internet Access to Comments

    All comments and submissions will be available for inspection and 
copying at the OSHA Docket Office at the above address. Comments and 
submissions will be posted without change at http://www.regulations.gov. 
Therefore, OSHA cautions commenters about submitting personal information 
such as social security numbers, dates of birth, etc. Although all 
submissions are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index, some 
information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly available to 
read or download through http://www.regulations.gov. Contact the OSHA 
Docket Office at (202) 693-2350 (TTY (877) 899-5627) for information 
about materials not available through the OSHA Web site and for assistance 
in using the Web site to locate docket submissions.
    Electronic copies of this Federal Register document are available 
at http://www.regulations.gov. This document, news releases and other 
relevant information, also are available at OSHA's Web page at 
http://www.osha.gov.

II. Background

    An influenza pandemic could have a major effect on society and the 
global economy, including travel, trade, tourism, food, consumption, 
and investment and financial markets. Planning for pandemic influenza 
by business and industry is essential to minimize a pandemic's impact. 
During a pandemic, employers will play a key role in protecting 
employees' health and safety as well as in limiting the impact of a 
pandemic on the economy and society. Employers will likely experience 
increased employee absences, changes in patterns of commerce and 
interrupted supply and delivery schedules. Therefore, as with any 
catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.
    The President announced the National Strategy for Pandemic 
Influenza in November of 2005, which outlines the Federal Government's 
approach to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic 
(http://www.pandemicflu.gov). To further assist in National pandemic 
preparedness efforts, the Department of Labor (DOL), in coordination 
with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), developed the 
Proposed Guidance on stockpiling of respirators and facemasks in 
occupational settings. The Proposed Guidance is designed to help 
private sector and government employers in making purchasing and 
stockpiling decisions regarding these protective devices, thereby 
allowing them to better protect their employees as well as lessen the 
impact of a pandemic. The document provides employers with 
recommendations and a methodology for calculating workplace stockpiling 
needs for respirators and facemasks in the event of an influenza 
pandemic.
    The Proposed Guidance is supplementary to the existing DOL/HHS 
Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic that was 
released February 2007 (http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3327pandemic.pdf).
The existing guidance includes information on how employers and employees 
can evaluate their risk of occupational exposure to pandemic influenza 
and explains steps that employers can take at each exposure risk level 
(very high, high, medium and low) to protect employees. The existing 
guidance document contains recommendations on the use of personal protective 
equipment (e.g. respirators and facemasks) at each risk level. More specifically, 
it recommends that employees at very high risk and high risk of 
exposure to pandemic influenza use respirators, while workers at medium 
risk of exposure use facemasks. Neither facemasks nor respirators are 
recommended for employees at lower risk of exposure to pandemic 
influenza.
    The Proposed Guidance supplements the existing guidance by 
informing employers about various types of respirators, their 
advantages, disadvantages, and approximate costs. In addition, when 
employers determine that they have employees who are at medium or 
higher exposure risk, the Proposed Guidance provides them with 
methodology to determine how many respirators and/or facemasks they 
would have to stockpile based upon the assumption that an influenza 
pandemic is expected to come in two waves, each lasting up to 12 weeks, 
extending over an 18-month period.
    OSHA encourages interested parties to comment on all aspects of the 
Proposed Guidance. The Agency is particularly interested in addressing 
the following questions:
    1. Is the guidance clear and useful in helping employers determine 
if they should stockpile respirators and/or facemasks for their 
employees and the quantity of each device that should be stockpiled?
    2. Are there any parts of the guidance that are not clear and if 
so, how can they be clarified?
    3. Do the underlying assumptions used to estimate stockpiling 
needs, as well as cost estimates, for various types of facemasks and 
respirators, appear to be appropriate? If not, please explain why you 
feel they are inappropriate and suggest an alternative and your 
rationale for the alternative.
    A. If you have already addressed stockpiling needs for your 
facility, could you please provide your underlying assumptions and 
methodology?
    B. Are employers that should stockpile respirators and/or facemasks 
currently stockpiling these devices and if not, how can the guidance be 
modified to encourage them to begin stockpiling?

III. Authority and Signature

    This notice was prepared under the direction of Edwin G. Foulke, 
Jr., Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. 
It is issued under sections 4 and 8 of the Occupational Safety and 
Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 653, 657).

    Issued at Washington, DC, this 5th day of May, 2008.
Edwin G. Foulke, Jr.,
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
 [FR Doc. E8-10312 Filed 5-8-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-26-P

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