Respiratory Protection Programs

By Accident Fund Senior Loss Control Consultant Richard McLaughlin

OSHA’s respirator standard applies in all occupational situations where employees are exposed to a hazardous level of an airborne contaminant or are required/permitted to wear respirators by the employer.

Four key duties the employer has related to this standard are:

  1. Use engineering controls where feasible to control the hazard.
  2. Provide an appropriate respirator.
  3. Ensure the use of an appropriate respirator.
  4. Institute a respiratory protection program.

A respiratory protection program will provide respirator users with knowledge of the following to ensure they are safely using the proper respirator:

  • Selection criteria
  • Medical evaluations
  • Fit testing
  • Procedures for proper use
  • Maintenance procedures

Tips for Success

  • Plan out the steps required to establish and implement a written program.
  • Retain records of medical evaluations, fit testing and program audits.
  • Evaluate the program to allow for continuous improvements that maintain its effectiveness.
  • Facilitate employee involvement by having them assist with auditing the program.
  • For voluntary use of filtering facepiece respirators, provide employees with the information contained in Appendix D of the OSHA respiratory protection standard. For voluntary use of all other respirators, implement written controls for medical fitness and proper maintenance procedures.

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