As many countries around the world have begun to return to the workplace, companies, including construction sites, may be considering additional requirements and reevaluating personal protective equipment (PPE) choices to help protect workers from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for construction, disinfection of reusable PPE is recommended at least at the beginning and end of each shift. Training should be provided to workers on cleaning PPE according to the manufacturer’s instructions. There is guidance available from the CDC for cleaning and disinfection practices in the workplace.
Reusable PPE Decontamination Guidance
3M provides the following documents on decontamination of reusable PPE:
- Reusable respirators: Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M Reusable Elastomeric Half and Full Facepiece Respirators following Potential Exposure to Coronaviruses
- Full face respirators: Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M™ Scott™ Reusable Full Facepiece Respirators Following Potential Exposure to Coronaviruses
- Powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs): Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M Powered Air Purifying Respirators following Potential Exposure to Coronaviruses
- Fall protection equipment: Disinfecting Fall Protection Equipment – COVID-19 Concerns
- Head, eye and face protection: Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M™ Head, Eye and Face Protection Products following Potential Exposure to Coronaviruses
- 3M™ PELTOR™ hearing protection: Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M™ PELTOR™ Protection & Communication Solutions following Potential Exposure to Coronaviruses
Disposable/FFR Respirator Cleaning Guidance
Under no circumstances should an attempt be made to clean or wash a 3M filtering facepiece respirator (FFRs). 3M has investigated methods for healthcare facilities to decontaminate FFRs; however, these methods are likely challenging to adopt in most workplaces. While decontamination of filtering facepiece respirators such as N95s is not recommended, see the following 3M document for updated information:
Disinfectant Cleaning Options for Facilities/Job Sites
Additionally, the 3M Commercial Solutions Division can provide disinfectant cleaners that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Emerging Pathogen Policy. These sanitizers may be considered for use against this coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 on non-critical, hard, non-porous surfaces that may be found in the workplace.
Employers should be aware that common sanitizers and disinfectants could contain hazardous chemicals. Where workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals, employers must comply with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) or other applicable regional/local regulations as well as Personal Protective Equipment standards (Ex. 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E in construction or 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I in general industry) and other applicable OSHA chemical standards. Employers should also consult OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for more information.
We also encourage you to check out our other blogs in this series, including general guidelines to help the construction industry safely return to work and how to help select PPE per recommended guidance from the CDC provided during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Connect with 3M Resources
We have many solutions to help you as you plan for a safe construction job site, from innovative products to world-class technical support. For more resources, visit www.3m.com/coronavirus as well as our construction safety website where you can download the full construction guidance document about working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and you should review this guidance from U.S. OSHA. Contact your local 3M representative for more information on product-specific solutions.