Respiratory Protection Programs
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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:
- Use engineering controls where feasible to control the hazard.
- Provide an appropriate respirator.
- Ensure the use of an appropriate respirator.
- 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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