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  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

Respiratory Protection Standard

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Our company, EES, provides health and safety services to manufacturers, universities and the healthcare industry. On occasion, we will describe these services in our blog, EES Essential Elements. Among the services we offer our clients are respiratory fit testing and the development of respirator programs. Let us know in the comments field below how your organization accomplishes this mandatory fit testing.

OSHA Standard 1910.134 requires employees to wear an appropriate type of respirator and be fit tested if feasible engineering controls are not adequate to reduce contamination below permissible exposure limits. A positive pressure and negative pressure User Seal Check is required prior to each use with the identical make, model, style, and size of respirator.

OSHA requires employees to be trained and to pass a quantitative or qualitative respirator fit test prior to initial use and annually thereafter. Fit testing requires that a facilitator oversee the test and observe the response of the user. Fit testing is the only way to determine if the respirator fits properly. Annual retesting of respirator fit detects users whose respirators no longer fit properly.

OSHA’s Required Written Respiratory Program Includes:

1. Procedures for respirator selection.

2. Employee medical evaluations.

3. Fit testing measures for all tight-fitting respirators.

4. Procedures for use in both routine and emergency situations.

5. Cleaning and maintenance protocols.

6. Employee education and training.

OSHA’s Required Medical Evaluation Includes:

1. Employee’s ability to use a respirator prior to fit testing or use.

2. Confidential questionnaire and medical exam.

3. Physician’s medical clearance.

Pulmonary Function Test (Spirometry):

Spirometry is the most frequently performed test to measure lung function. The employee breathes in and out as quickly as possible into a measurement device. Measurements are compared against a norm. Spirometry is used in pre-placement and fit-for-duty examinations where cardiopulmonary fitness or respirator use may impose a burden on cardiopulmonary systems. Spirometry is not specifically required under the Respiratory Protection Standard, however, repeated evaluations are effective in ruling out respiratory disorders.

Surveillance may detect a developing loss of function. Surveillance requires a baseline be established and periodic retesting. OSHA mandates testing for respirator wearers and employees exposed to asbestos, cadmium, coke oven emissions, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde and methylene chloride.

For more information about OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard or to schedule your respiratory protection assessment, call or email me. We can schedule respiratory fit testing for your employees on relatively short notice.


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