The OSHA/NIOSH toolkit contains an appendix that is an editable document any hospital can use to draw up its respiratory protection program.

OSHA and NIOSH Release Hospital Respiratory Toolkit

It covers respirator use, public health guidance on respirator use during exposure to infectious diseases, and hazard assessment, with an appendix being an editable document a hospital can customize to meet its specific needs.

OSHA and NIOSH have produced a Hospital Respiratory Protection Toolkit to be used by health care employers to protect staffers from airborne transmissible infectious diseases, chemicals, and certain drugs that may be used in hospitals. OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard requires that health care employers establish and maintain a respiratory protection program in workplaces where workers may be exposed to respiratory hazards.

"Hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "One of the ways that we can protect workers in a health care setting is by providing employers with the resources needed to ensure a safe workplace. This toolkit will help protect those workers who dedicate their lives to caring for others."

NIOSH's director, Dr. John Howard, agreed, saying, "Appropriate respiratory protection is a vital line of defense against airborne hazards hospital workers might face on the job. This toolkit is an important resource to help health care employers ensure their workers are out of harm’s way when it comes to respiratory hazards."

The toolkit covers respirator use, existing public health guidance on respirator use during exposure to infectious diseases, hazard assessment, the development of a hospital respiratory protection program, and additional resources and references on hospital respiratory protection programs. Appendix D is an editable document each hospital can customize to meet its specific needs.

It was adapted from a California guide, "Implementing Respiratory Protection Programs in Hospitals: A Guide for Respirator Program Administrators," which was released in May 2012 and was developed by the California Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Branch. Numerous organizations assisted in the toolkit's development or reviewed the material, including 3M, Hospital Corporation of America, Kaiser Permanente, the Mayo Clinic, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and the New York State Department of Health.

To supplement the toolkit, The Joint Commission developed an educational monograph, Implementing Hospital Respiratory Protection Programs: Strategies from the Field, to help hospitals implement respiratory protection programs. "Respiratory protection programs enhance safety for both workers and patients, but there are many common challenges associated with their implementation,” said Dr. Ana McKee, executive vice president and chief medical officer of The Joint Commission. “We hope that by showcasing the innovative and effective strategies used by health care organizations across the country to overcome some of these challenges, hospitals can learn from one another as they implement and improve their own respiratory protection programs."

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