Respiratory Protection in Long Term Care
Employees that may be exposed to respiratory hazards such as the COVID-19 or influenza virus will need to use respiratory protection. Using the N95 respirator to protect your employees against these respiratory hazards requires compliance to the Respirator Rule (WAC 296-842). If your caregivers are not yet fit tested to an N95 or you have questions, please visit the DOH Fit Test Project website or email them at HAI-FitTest@doh.wa.gov to get detailed information.
There are 4 components that need to happen to be compliant with the Respirator Rule:
- Have a written respiratory protection program – This document is site specific. Here is a template created by L&I to get you started.
- Provide the medical evaluation – This needs to be done by a licensed health care provider (LHCP) familiar with the WA Respiratory Rule. Options to get this done:
- Use the DOH medical evaluation vendor (3M). This is available to you at no cost until the end of the year. If you are interested in this option, email HAI-FitTest@doh.wa.gov with your facility name and address, contact name, and email address.
- Have your own LHCP review the medical evaluations for your facility.
- Hire a LHCP or Occupational Health Clinic.
- Provide respirator use training – Training must occur before the fit test. There is specific information that needs to be covered to meet the Respirator Rule. Visit the DOH Fit Test Project or the L&I website for training material you can use for your employees.
- Fit testing – The fit test will ensure that specific N95 will protect your employee. The DOH has 4 fit test vendors to go out to your facility and perform the fit testing. Like the medical evaluations, this is available to you at no cost until the end of the year.
If you have signed up to use the medical evaluation vendor but have not yet logged in to enter in your employee names, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a new link and instructions on how to proceed with their system.
The fit test vendors will not schedule an appointment for fit testing until the medical evaluations are completed. If you have questions about how the DOH can help you with your Respiratory Protection Program, please do not hesitate to contact the DOH Fit Test Project team at HAI-FitTest@doh.wa.gov.
- 296-842 – https://www.lni.wa.gov/safety-health/safety-rules/chapter-pdfs/WAC296-842.pdf
- DOH Fit Test Project – https://www.doh.wa.gov/ForPublicHealthandHealthcareProviders/HealthcareProfessionsandFacilities/HealthcareAssociatedInfections/FitTesting
- Template – https://lni.wa.gov/safety-health/_docs/Respirator-Program-Template%20-Guide-for-N95-Use-in-LTC-During-the-COVID-19-Pandemic.docx
L&I website for training – https://lni.wa.gov/safety-health/safety-training-materials/training-kits
BYD DE2322 Respirators (N95s)
DOH and DSHS previously contacted you in regard to the elastic straps on BYD N95 respirators. We have learned from NIOSH that the investigation into the straps did not find a defect, however NIOSH has opened a new investigation into BYD N95 respirators for filter efficiency. Details on the preliminary findings regarding filter efficiency can be found here. When additional information becomes available from NIOSH we will provide it to you.
You are eligible to have your staff re-fit tested to other brands of respirators at no cost – you can find out more about this here.
Fit testing is an annual process, and DOH anticipates their current funding to last through 12/31/2021. Prior to fit testing, we encourage you to find out which respirators you are able to obtain through your PPE purchasing processes, and have your staff fit tested to those brands. Our fit testing contractors can fit test your staff to multiple respirator models so you are better prepared for any future shortages. An additional purchasing option for 3M products is available through the 3M Marketplace, a listing of validated PPE distributors. Even if you obtain different respirators, you can continue to wear BYD as respirators and as source control at this time.
If you have any questions, please contact DOH at email@example.com