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OSHA’s requirements for respiratory protection
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "An effective [respiratory protection] program requires a systematic approach to evaluating workplace conditions, selecting the appropriate respirator, ensuring the respirator fits, and maintaining the respirator properly." Here are some provisions of the standard (1910.139):
I. Training and Information
Employees must be trained prior to their initial use of a respirator, unless another employer has provided "acceptable" training within the past 12 months. They then must be retrained annually or when workplace conditions change, a new type of respirator is used, or inadequacies in the employees’ knowledge or use indicates that they need additional training. The training must include information explaining:
II. Medical Evaluation
Before the first fit-testing and use, employers must provide a medical evaluation to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator. An annual review of the employee’s medical status is not required. The medication evaluation must include:
All employees using a negative- or positive-pressure tight-fitting face-piece respirator must pass an appropriate qualitative fit test (QLFT) or quantitative fit test (QNFT). Fit-testing is required prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator face piece is used, and at least annually thereafter. An additional fit test is required whenever the employee reports or the employer or physician or other licensed health care professional makes visual observations of changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g., facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight).
IV. Record Keeping
V. Program Evaluation
The employer must conduct evaluations of the workplace as necessary to ensure proper implementation of the program and consult with employees to ensure proper use.
(Editor’s note: For a copy of the Respiratory Protection Standard, go to: www.osha.gov/SLTC/respiratoryprotection/standards.html. Additional information is available from the Small Entity Compliance Guide for Respiratory Protection at www.osha.gov/Publications/SECG_RPS/secg_rps.html.)