Shortage of Respiratory Protection Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a shortage of disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators. Just recently, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance that allows Compliance Safety and Health Officers to use and reuse these masks beyond their usual shelf life.

What does that mean?

You’re probably reading a lot of news and memos that are difficult to understand, so let’s break this down. This “interim guidance” means that OSHA is not permanently changing the rules or the usual protocol — but rather just changing it for the foreseeable future. So, for now, the guidance is that Compliance Safety and Health Officers should be using these masks as long as they can, which means they might need to reuse them a few times.


In the wake of the shortage, we need to be conservative with supplies. Think about how conservative you are with toilet paper or paper towels right now. We’re in a similar scenario with these face masks.

What are the N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators?

The N95 respirator is the most common filtering facepiece respirator out there — that’s out of about 7 total. According to the CDC, it filters about 95% of airborne particles. Given the precautions our world must take due to COVID-19 right now, it’s important we use these masks wisely.

Curious to learn more? Read more on OSHA’s website.

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