May 19, 2022

NIOSH Updates Personal Protective Technology Action Plan for Healthcare

On May 16, NIOSH released its draft healthcare personal protective technology (PPT) “targets” for 2020–2030 (PDF), alongside a request for public comment issued through the Federal Register. The draft PPT targets are part of NIOSH’s efforts to prevent infectious disease transmission among healthcare workers. According to the agency, these objectives will inform its PPT efforts throughout this decade.

The draft PPT targets stem from the Healthcare PPT Action Plan, an initiative launched by the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory in 2006 to focus on and raise awareness of healthcare professionals’ PPT needs during a potential influenza pandemic. The most recent version of the action plan was in place from 2013 to 2018 and focused on PPE used to reduce exposures to respiratory viruses. In the meantime, NIOSH has considered the United States’ past decade of experience with infectious diseases, including influenza, Ebola, and coronavirus, and now “recognizes a need for additional types of PPT and an opportunity to address existing gaps by leveraging NIOSH’s unique capabilities related to PPT research, development, performance standards and test methods, and conformity assessment.”

The draft targets support six objectives: conducting workplace exposure assessments and hazard evaluations to inform PPT policies and standards; developing, evaluating, and innovating PPT performance requirements and test methods; developing tactics to extend PPT supplies during emergencies; developing guidance to inform PPT implementation; providing national leadership; and expanding the nation’s PPT research and innovation capacities. To meet these objectives, NIOSH intends to assess gaps in its PPT knowledge by collecting stakeholders’ input, reviewing scientific literature, and reviewing relevant trends and legislation. The agency will also establish priorities and supporting targets to improve protection for healthcare workers.

Prior to finalizing the draft PPT targets, NIOSH will collect relevant information and data through its request for public comments, as outlined in a Federal Register notice. Interested individuals or organizations must submit comments by July 15.