[Federal Register: May 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 91)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
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.
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
DATES: Written Comments: You must submit your comments by the following
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.
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
(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.
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
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
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
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
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