Massachusetts OSHA Consultation Program Provided Respiratory Protection Training During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. As the science was revealing that the COVID-19 virus was spreading via airborne droplets, public health and safety and health experts were recommending the use of face coverings or respirators when around other people. Starting in 2020 and continuing into 2021, the Massachusetts OSHA Consultation Program received multiple requests for virtual trainings and performed several compliance assistance activities on respiratory protection. Massachusetts Consultation was able to get valuable information about respiratory protection to groups of employers, workers, and future workers during the pandemic.
Examples of these respiratory protection compliance assistance activities were:
- Massachusetts Senior Care Association. The association’s members include nearly 400 nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living residences, and residential care facilities and communities. In October 2020, Massachusetts Consultation provided virtual training on respiratory protection. The training also covered Issues connected to respiratory protection as found in the long-term care industry. To date, this training has resulted in three virtual Consultation visits for association members and multiple other inquiries about Consultation services.
- The Safety Stop. The Safety Stop, a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, requested respiratory protection training for school administrators, teachers, and students at technical and vocational schools. The goal was to educate and help protect teachers and students. In December 2020, 65 people attended a virtual respiratory protection training. Many teachers who attended live streamed the training into classrooms for students to watch. A link to the recorded training was sent out to vocational directors, cooperative placement coordinators, and school superintendents across Massachusetts where it will continue to be used to provide valuable information.
- OSHA and Western Massachusetts Safety Alliance. In January 2021, Massachusetts Consultation provided virtual respiratory protection training to participants in this OSHA Alliance, including Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin contractors (HHFC), local employers, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 (IUOE) members. This training covered respiratory protection as well as some local COVID-19 requirements. There were 43 people in attendance and over 27 requested the link to the recorded training for future use.
The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards and how to fix them, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, train and educate workers, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from OSHA enforcement efforts and do not result in penalties or citations. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit https://www.osha.gov/Consultation.