ISEA Members Meet Legislators to Discuss Funding for NIOSH

L to R: Jeff Birkner, Moldex; John Morris, Scott Safety; and Jessica Hauge, 3M, prepare to enter the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Members of the ISEA Respiratory Protection Product Group met this week at the new ISEA office in Arlington, VA, to discuss pressing issues regarding respiratory protection.

Representatives from 3M, Gentex, Kimberley Clark, Honeywell, MSA, Moldex, Scott Safety, and SureWerx were in attendance to review topics such as:

  • A strategy for the regulatory structure of respiratory protection in healthcare workplaces
  • ISEA comments in response to a request for information (RFI) on a potential OSHA Infectious Disease standard
  • Additional funding for NIOSH
  • OSHA’s request for respiratory protection training materials (documents, videos, etc.) for end users

Senior staff at NIOSH joined the meeting for an open discussion about the Barrier Face Covering (BFC) standard, ways to support the Administration’s goals of a resilient public health supply chain through increased standardization of PPE, and current thinking and planning on incorporating Respirator Fit Capability (RFC) by reference. And, Brian Ormand, Ph.D., Associate Professor and textile researcher from North Carolina State University joined to update the group on recent studies about masks and fit relative to filtration.

To The Hill

L to R: Tom Gier, 3m; John Morris, Scott Safety; and Jessica Hauge, 3M with representatives from Congressman Don Bacon’s office.

The next day, members of the group set out for Capitol Hill to walk the halls of Congress. Their goal was to educate their representatives about NIOSH’s underfunding and the consequential impacts to PPE manufacturers and workers who need effective, innovative respiratory protection and other safety equipment.

Armed with talking points, statistics and data, and informational documents to leave behind, ISEA’s respiratory protection product group members met with legislative staff from the offices of Rep. Connor Lamb (D-PA), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI).

They explained that due to COVID, NPPTL is overwhelmed with respirator applications, citing massive jumps in requests for manufacturer registration numbers and approvals of new applications. The backlog plus the expected increase in applications going forward has and will continue to lengthen the time for all applications to be reviewed.

All meeting attendees with representatives from Congressman Trent Kelly’s office.

The combined effect of the new level of applications and fewer individuals to process the applications is causing a serious slow-down in the approval process.  The result is U.S. workers have to wait longer to get these new devices.
NIOSH must also do more to screen for and stop products that wrongfully use NIOSH trademarks and logos. NIOSH could conduct this activity in conjunction with other federal agencies and industry partners

Recommendation for Additional Funding

The group requested their Congressmen recommended Congress provide an additional $8 million in annual funding for NPPTL.

“American workers in your district need swifter access to new, innovative respiratory protection made by American manufacturers, also in your district,” Dan Glucksman told staff from Congressman Lamb’s office. “With additional funding for more resources, NIOSH can help make this happen.”