When effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted, Cal/OSHA’s respirator standard (Title 8 CCR 5144) requires that respirators are used to protect employees from breathing contaminated and/or oxygen-deficient air. When controls do not reduce respiratory hazards below established exposure limits, appropriate respirators must be used. Other Cal/OSHA regulations also require the use of respirators.
It is the policy of Stanford University to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. Managers and supervisors are responsible for establishing and maintaining good health and safety practices.
When effective engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or practical, or in emergency situations, it may be necessary to use personal respiratory protective equipment. An effective program is essential to ensure adequate protection.
Requirements outlined below are mandatory by regulation where the word “shall” is used.
The Respiratory Protection Program protects employees by:
- Establishing accepted practices for respirator use
- Providing guidelines for training and respirator selection
- Explaining proper storage, use, and care of respirators
The Respiratory Protection Program shall conform to the applicable requirements from the California Code of Regulations.
This program applies to all Stanford University employees who need to wear a respirator to perform assigned duties. In addition, any employee who voluntarily wears a respirator when one is not required is subject to the medical evaluation, cleaning, maintenance, and storage elements of this program and will be provided with necessary training. Employees who voluntarily wear filtering face pieces (dust masks) are not subject to the medical evaluation, cleaning, storage, and maintenance provisions of this program.
Supervisors and Principal Investigators
Supervisors have the primary responsibility of implementing the Respiratory Protection Program in their work area. This involves:
- Supervising employees to ensure that they’re following all elements of the Respiratory Protection Program
- Identifying jobs/tasks that may require respiratory protection, providing this information to the Program Administrator (EH&S), and seeking EH&S assistance in evaluating respiratory hazards
- Purchasing appropriate respirators and making them available for authorized use
- Enforcing the proper use of respiratory protection
- Ensuring that respirators are properly cleaned, maintained, and stored (according to the Program)
- Ensuring that respirator users under their supervision (including new hires) receive appropriate training, fit testing, and medical evaluation
- Identifying changes in jobs/tasks which may require re-evaluation of respirator use and notifying the Program Administrator in these situations
- Maintaining, storing, and inspecting emergency use respirators monthly (as required) so that they are readily accessible and operational when needed
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
EH&S is responsible for developing, implementing, and administrating the Respiratory Protection Program. The Respiratory Protection Program Administrator (within EH&S) is responsible for:
- Reviewing and updating the written Respiratory Protection Program
- Evaluating respiratory hazards in work areas
- Providing guidance to supervisors for the selection and purchase of approved respirators
- Providing training (including refresher sessions) on the proper use, maintenance, and storage of respirators to all respirator users, including emergency self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) users
- Providing a fit testing program for respirator users
- Maintaining records on respiratory protective equipment assignments, fit testing, and training
- Evaluating the overall effectiveness of the Program
Respirator users must follow the requirements of the written Program. This involves:
- Using the respirator in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and training received
- Storing, cleaning, maintaining, and guarding against damage to the respirator
- Reporting any respirator malfunction to the supervisor
- Inspecting the respirator before each use
- Promptly reporting any symptoms of illness that may be related to respirator usage or exposure to hazardous atmospheres to the supervisor
- Informing the supervisor of operation changes or health status changes that could affect safe use of the equipment
Occupational Health Provider or other licensed health care professional
The Occupational Health Provider is responsible for:
- Performing initial and periodic medical evaluations, as well as any necessary follow-up examinations of employees, to determine their ability to wear a respirator
- Providing a written evaluation of the employee’s ability to use a respirator to EH&S
- Conducting periodic medical evaluation of respirator users, as necessary
Initially and whenever supervisors identify new substances, processes, or equipment that may represent an occupational safety and health hazard, they shall contact EH&S at (650) 723-0448 for a workplace exposure assessment. Based on the data collected, EH&S will determine if respiratory protection is necessary.
EH&S shall select respirators for specific operations and/or contaminants from an adequate number of models and sizes to allow for proper fit.
The selection of a proper respirator for any given situation shall require evaluation of workplace respiratory hazards, including identification of:
- A reasonable estimate of employee exposures to respiratory hazard(s)
- The contaminant’s chemical state (valence state) and physical form (e.g. gas, vapor, particulate, etc.)
Approved respirators, filters, cartridges, and canisters
- Only respirators certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shall be selected.
- All appropriate filters, cartridges, and canisters shall be labeled and color-coded with the NIOSH approval label. Labeling shall not be removed and shall remain legible.
Respirators for use in IDLH atmospheres
The only kinds of respirators authorized for use in an atmosphere immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) are:
- A full-facepiece pressure-demand SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) certified by NIOSH for a minimum service life of 30 minutes
- A combination full-facepiece pressure-demand supplied-air respirator with auxiliary self-contained air supply
For use in emergency escape from IDLH atmospheres, respirators shall be NIOSH-certified for escape from the specific IDLH atmospheres being encountered.
Respirators for use in non-IDLH atmospheres
Protection against gases and vapors
Respirator users shall be provided with either an air-supplying respirator or air-purifying respirator, as appropriate. If an air-purifying respirator is selected:
- The respirator shall be equipped with an end-of-service-life indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the specific contaminant.
- If no appropriate ESLI can be used, employees shall follow the cartridge/canister change schedule assigned by EH&S for the specific operation identified.
Protection against particulates
Where appropriate, respirator users shall be provided with an air-supplying respirator or air-purifying respirator equipped with a NIOSH-certified HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, or with a NIOSH-rated filter rated at N95 or higher.
For contaminants consisting primarily of particles with mass median aerodynamic diameters (MMAD) of at least two micrometers, an air-purifying respirator equipped with any filter certified for particulates by NIOSH may be used.
Any employee respirator use, either required or voluntary, shall be pre-approved by the Respiratory Protection Program Administrator. Employees shall only wear the specific respirator type(s) for which they were pre-approved.
Note that the voluntary use of filtering facepieces (dust masks) does not fall under the requirements of the Respiratory Protection Program.
N95 respirator use approval
The following instructions apply only to Stanford University employees required to wear N95 respirators. For employees who are not required to wear a N95 respirator, but would like to wear one for purposes of comfort, refer to different procedures.
- Review the material covered in the N95 Respirator Training.
Complete the following forms, then submit them to your supervisor:
Submit in a sealed envelope. Note that this form is only required for first-time N95 use approval.
Supervisors should submit the completed form(s) to Stanford University Occupational Health Center, 480 Oak Road, Stanford, CA 94305-8007 (MC 8007 for Internal Mail, Telephone: (650) 725-5308, Fax: (650) 725-9218).
- The SU Occupational Health Center will review the completed forms, then notify the supervisor and user of the medical evaluation results.
Once the SU Occupational Health Center has provided medical clearance, contact EH&S at (650) 723-0448 to schedule respirator fit testing. Based on fit testing results, a specific respirator model and size will be assigned.
After these steps have been completed, EH&S will provide documentation of N95 approval for one year.
Training for required respirator usage
Any employee required to wear a respirator shall receive training in the proper use, care, and limitations of the selected respirator. The training course will cover the following topics:
- The Stanford University Respiratory Protection Program
- The Cal/OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (Title 8 CCR Section 5144)
- Respiratory hazards encountered at the workplace and their health effects
- Proper selection and use of respirators
- Limitations of respirators
- Respirator donning and user fit checks
- Fit testing
- Emergency use procedures
- Maintenance and storage
- Medical signs and symptoms limiting the effective use of respirators
Each of these employees shall be trained upon initial assignment and at least once every 12 months thereafter. Retraining shall also be provided whenever:
- Workplace or respirator changes render previous training obsolete
- Deficiencies in the employee’s knowledge are revealed
- Another situation makes retraining appear necessary
Training for voluntary respirator usage
Before voluntary respirator use is approved by the Respiratory Protection Program, the employee must receive initial training in the proper use, care, and limitations of the selected respirator. The employee shall then review, sign, and submit the Voluntary Respirator Use Agreement (Appendix A) to EH&S.
Before approving the use of respirators with negative-pressure or positive-pressure tight-fitting facepieces for individuals, the Respiratory Protection Program shall provide qualitative and/or quantitative respirator fit tests.
Where respirator use is required, fit testing shall be conducted:
- Prior to initial use and at least annually
- Whenever an employee switches to a different tight-fitting facepiece (size, style, model, or make)
- Whenever the employee reports, or the Occupational Health Physician, supervisor, or Respiratory Protection Program Administrator notices, changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g. facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or obvious changes in body weight)
For air-supplying respirators, fit testing shall be performed in a negative-pressure mode. Fit testing shall follow the General Respirator Fit Testing Procedures.
Fit testing for voluntary respirator usage
Note that fit testing is not required for voluntary use of respirators (for purposes of comfort). Voluntary users who wish to have a fit test should contact EH&S.
Qualitative fit test (Bitrex™ protocol)
Qualitative fit testing shall only be performed for negative-pressure air-purifying respirators that must achieve a fit factor of 100 or less. However, this method is suitable for voluntary usage of any tight-fitting respirator.
The qualitative fit test is performed using the Bitrex™ Solution Aerosol Fit Test Protocol.
Quantitative fit test (Portacount™ protocol)
The quantitative fit test may be performed for any respirator as long as a sampling probe can be adapted onto the surrogate respirator being tested.
Facepiece seal protection
A tight-fitting facepiece respirator shall not be worn when conditions prevent a proper seal of the respirator to the wearer. Remedies to common facepiece seal problems include:
- Shave facial areas that interfere with face-to-facepiece seal or areas that interfere with respirator valve function.
- Ensure glasses and personal protective equipment are worn in such a way as to avoid facepiece seal interference.
User seal checks
To ensure that an adequate seal is achieved each time the respirator is put on, use either the positive/negative pressure check or the respirator manufacturer’s recommended user seal check method. User seal checks are not substitutes for qualitative or quantitative fit tests. Refer to the Respiratory Protection Safety Training (IH Report No. 98-012) for specific user seal check procedures.
Respirator cartridges shall be replaced as determined by the Program Administrator, supervisor, and manufacturers’ recommendations, including end-of-service-life indicators (ESLI). The following information regarding cartridge change applies solely to employees who wear respirators when handling pesticides.
When air-purifying respirators are required for protection against pesticides, the employer shall ensure that the air-purifying elements (or the entire respirator, if it is disposable) are replaced according to the following criteria:
- If, at the first indication of odor, taste, or irritation while in use, the wearer leaves the contaminated area, adjusts the mask for fit, and on returning still encounters odor, taste, or irritation (this criterion supercedes any of the criteria listed below)
- When any ESLI indicates that the respirator has reached its end of service
- If using disposable filtering facepiece respirators, at the end of the day’s work period
- According to pesticide-specific label directions or recommendations
- According to pesticide-specific directions from the manufacturer
- If there are no pesticide-specific directions or recommendations, at the end of the day’s work period
Continuing respirator effectiveness
When there is a change in work area conditions or degree of employee exposure or stress that may affect respirator effectiveness, the employee shall request that their supervisor contact EH&S to re-evaluate respiratory hazards.
Procedures for IDLH atmospheres
In all atmospheres that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH), the supervisor shall ensure that work operations are completed as follows:
- One employee (or more than one employee, when necessary) must be located outside of the IDLH atmosphere.
- Visual, voice, or signal line communication must be maintained between the employee(s) in the IDLH atmosphere and the employee(s) located outside the IDLH atmosphere.
- The employee(s) located outside the IDLH atmosphere must be trained and equipped to provide effective emergency rescue.
- The employer or designee must be notified before any employees located outside of the IDLH atmosphere enter to provide emergency rescue.
- Once notified, the employer or designee (authorized to do so by the employer) must provide the assistance necessary.
- Employee(s) located outside of the IDLH atmospheres must be equipped with:
- A pressure-demand or other positive-pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure supplied-air respirator with auxiliary SCBA, and either:
- Appropriate retrieval equipment to remove any employee who enters these hazardous atmospheres, where retrieval equipment would contribute to the rescue of the employee and would not increase the overall risk resulting from entry
- An equivalent means for rescue if retrieval equipment is unsuitable.
- A pressure-demand or other positive-pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure supplied-air respirator with auxiliary SCBA, and either:
Each respirator shall be properly maintained to retain its original effectiveness. This requires cleaning and disinfecting, proper storage, periodic inspections, and repair.
Cleaning and disinfecting respirators
Respirator users must clean and sanitize their respirators, as covered in the Respiratory Protection Safety Training (IH Report No. 98-012).
- An individually assigned respirator which is used routinely shall be cleaned as often as necessary to keep it in a sanitary condition.
- Respirators that are not individually assigned shall be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
- Respirators kept for emergency use or fit testing shall be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Respirator users must properly store their respirators, as covered in the Respirator Protection Safety Training.
Respirator users shall inspect their respirators before each use and during cleaning, as covered in the Respirator Protection Safety Training.
Additional inspection requirements for emergency use respirators
- Check emergency use respirators for proper function before and after each use.
- Inspect emergency use respirators at least monthly, and in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Certify the respirator by documenting inspection dates, the inspector’s identification, findings, and remedial actions. Documentation shall be provided in the form of a tag or label attached to the respirator’s storage compartment or included in inspection reports on paper or electronic files. This information shall be kept until replaced by a subsequent certification.
- Emergency escape-only respirators shall be inspected before they are brought into the workplace.
Respirators that do not pass inspection shall be removed from service and brought to the supervisor’s attention immediately.
- Minor repairs (e.g. replacing valves for air-purifying respirators or replacing straps) shall be made as specified by the respirator manufacturer’s instructions using the manufacturer’s NIOSH-approved parts.
- No attempt shall be made to replace components, or make adjustments, modifications, or repairs beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation. If a manufacturer indicates that a respirator cannot be repaired by users, the unit shall be disposed of, or the manufacturer should be contacted for further assistance.
- Reducing and admission valves, regulators, and alarms shall only be adjusted or repaired by the manufacturer or a manufacturer-trained technician.
Breathing air quality for supplied-air respirators/SCBAs
Supervisors shall ensure that employees using an atmosphere-supplying respirator (supplied-air or self-contained breathing apparatus) are supplied with high-purity breathing gases.
- The compressed air, compressed oxygen, liquid air, and liquid oxygen used for respiration shall meet the following specifications:
- Compressed and liquid oxygen shall meet the United States Pharmacopoeia requirements for medical or breathing oxygen.
- Compressed breathing air shall at least meet the requirements for Grade D breathing air described in ANSI/Compressed Gas Association Commodity Specification for Air, G-7.1-1989.
- The compressed oxygen shall not be used in atmosphere-supplying respirators that have previously used compressed air.
- Oxygen concentrations greater than 23.5% must only be used in equipment designed for oxygen service or distribution.
- Cylinders used to supply breathing air to respirators shall meet the following requirements:
- Cylinders must be tested and maintained as prescribed in the Shipping Container Specification Regulations of the Department of Transportation.
- Cylinders of purchased breathing air must have a certificate of analysis from the supplier certifying that the breathing air meets the requirements for Grade D breathing air and the moisture content in the cylinder does not exceed a dew point of -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45.6 degrees Celsius) at 1 atmosphere pressure.
- Compressors used to supply breathing air to respirators must be constructed and situated so as to:
- Prevent entry of contaminated air into the air-supply system
- Minimize moisture content so that the dew point at 1 atmosphere pressure is 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-5.56 degrees Celsius) below the ambient temperature
- Have suitable in-line air-purifying sorbent beds and filters to further ensure breathing air quality. Sorbent beds and filters shall be maintained and either replaced or refurbished periodically following the manufacturer’s instructions, with a tag containing the most recent change date and the signature of the person authorized by the employer to perform the change maintained at the compressor.
- For compressors that are not oil-lubricated, the carbon monoxide levels in the breathing air shall not exceed 10 ppm.
- For oil-lubricated compressors, a high-temperature or carbon monoxide alarm (or both) shall be used to monitor carbon monoxide levels. If only high-temperature alarms are used, the air supply shall be monitored at intervals suited to prevent carbon monoxide in the breathing air from exceeding 10 ppm.
- Breathing air couplings shall be incompatible with outlets for nonrespirable worksite air or other gas systems. No asphyxiating substance shall be introduced into breathing air lines.
- Only breathing gas containers marked in accordance with the NIOSH respirator certification standard (42 CFR part 84) shall be used.
Before any employee is fit tested for required respirator use in the workplace, medical evaluation shall be provided to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator. A medical evaluation is not required for escape-only respirators (i.e. emergency life support apparatuses, or ELSAs).
Employees shall be given an initial medical evaluation to determine if they are medically able to use a respirator. Employees should first contact the Occupational Health Provider.
- The initial medical evaluation will be conducted using the Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire.
- If the employee cannot read and complete the medical questionnaire because he or she does not understand English, either a copy of the questionnaire or a confidential reader shall be provided. (Refer to the glossary for a detailed definition of “confidential reader.”)
- If there are any positive responses to questions five through 12 of Section 1 of the Questionnaire, a follow-up medical exam shall include any medical tests, consultations, or diagnostic procedures that the physician deems necessary.
Provision of supplemental information to the evaluating physician
Prior to making any determination regarding an employee’s ability to wear a respirator, the evaluating physician shall be given:
- A written copy of the SU Respirator Protection Program
- Specific information regarding the employee’s respirator usage (see Respirator Use Profile and the Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire)
The physician shall provide a written recommendation regarding the employee’s ability to use the respirator. The recommendations shall provide only the following information:
- Any limitations on respirator use related to the medical condition of the employee, or relating to the workplace conditions in which the respirator will be used, including whether or not the employee is medically able to use the respirator
- The need, if any, for follow-up medical evaluations
- A statement that the physican has provided the employee with a copy of the written recommendation
If the physician identifies a medical condition that may place the employee’s health at increased risk during assigned use of a negative-pressure respirator, then a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) shall be approved for use so long as the physician’s evaluation indicates that it would be suitable. If a subsequent medical evaluation finds the employee medically able to use a negative-pressure respirator, the physician must indicate this in a written recommendation.
Additional medical evaluations
Medical evaluations shall be promptly provided whenever:
- An employee reports medical signs or symptoms that affect his or her ability to use a respirator.
- A physician, supervisor, or the Respiratory Protection Program Administrator believes that an employee needs to be re-evaluated.
- Information from the Respiratory Protection Program Administrator (including observations made during fit testing and program evaluation) indicates a need for employee re-evaluation.
- A change in conditions (e.g. physical work effort, protective clothing, or temperature) may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on an employee.
EH&S shall conduct workplace evaluations to ensure that the provisions of the current written program are implemented.
To assist in program evaluation, required respirator users must fill out a Respirator Use Annual Questionnaire to communicate any problems or concerns. Any problem that EH&S identifies from this questionnaire shall be corrected.
The Respiratory Protection Program Administrator shall ensure that records of the following are maintained:
- Respirator training (including the completed Voluntary Respirator Use Agreement Sheets)
- Respirator fit testing
- A written copy of the current Respiratory Protection Program
For medical evaluations, EH&S will maintain the medical clearance form and the Occupational Health Physician will maintain questionnaires, along with any additional documentation.
The supervisor shall ensure that records of the following are maintained:
- Respirator training (including the completed Voluntary Respirator Use Agreement Sheets)
- Respirator inspection and maintenance records
- The monthly inspection record for emergency use respirators
1. When is the use of respirators required?
Respirators are required when employees or students are involved in work that may expose them to contaminants in the air at harmful levels. Respirators should always be used as a last resort of personal protection, after first working to eliminate or engineer out the hazard and implementing administrative controls that could remove the individual from the environment in question.
2. Who do I contact if I think I need a respirator?
Your supervisor will ensure that the job site and/or work task is evaluated to determine if respiratory hazards are present. EH&S provides consultation in evaluating potential hazards in your work area.
3. Who maintains and administers the Respiratory Protection Program?
The Respiratory Protection Program is administered by EH&S, with staff medical services coordinated by the Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC) and student medical services coordinated by Vaden Health Center.
The program establishes and implements a written program with worksite-specific procedures for selection, medical evaluation, fit testing, training, use, and proper care.
4. What if I wish to wear a respirator, even though it’s not required?
If you wish to wear a dust mask (filtering facepiece):
- Complete the Voluntary Respirator Use Agreement.
- EH&S must determine that the respirator itself does not create a hazard.
If you want to wear any other kind of respirator:
- The Occupational Health Provider (or Vaden Health Center, if you are a student) must provide medical clearance.
- The respirator must be properly cleaned, stored, and maintained.
- Take all applicable respirator training courses.
- Take a respirator fit test.
5. Do I need medical clearance prior to wearing a respirator?
Yes. The Occupational Health Provider provides medical clearance for employees, and Vaden Health Center provides medical clearance for students. A medical evaluation determines each person’s ability to use a respirator before fit testing or usage.
However, when employees voluntarily use a dust mask (filtering facepiece) in areas that have no recognized respiratory hazards, a medical clearance is not required.
6. Do I have to complete a Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire?
A physician or other licensed health care professional must perform the medical evaluation using the Medical Questionnaire contained in Appendix D of the Stanford Respiratory Protection Program, or an initial medical examination that obtains the same information. Additionally, potential respirator users may be asked to complete a pulmonary function test prior to fit testing. The Medical Questionnaire, along with the pulmonary function test results, will be reviewed by a physician or other licensed practitioner.
7. Is training required before a respirator is used?
Yes. Training must be provided to all employees who are required to use respirators. Contact EH&S to schedule training.
Respirator selection and fitting
8. Can any respirator be used?
No. Respirators shall be selected on the basis of hazards to which the worker is exposed (e.g. particulates, vapors, infectious agents, oxygen-deficiency, or a combination of these). Also, Cal/OSHA regulations require the use of respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). EH&S will advise the use of proper respirator types.
9. Can I wear a single strap dust mask?
No. Single strap dust masks are not NIOSH-certified and should not be used.
10. What is an N95 respirator?
An N95 respirator is an air-purifying respirator that was tested for contaminants consisting of particles with mass median aerodynamic diameters of at least two micrometers, with a 95% minimum efficiency in a non-oil aerosol atmosphere.
11. How is the proper respirator size determined?
Proper respirator size is determined through a fit test. Employees using negative- or positive-pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirators must pass an appropriate fit test, using the procedures detailed in Appendix B of the Stanford Respirator Protection Program. EH&S will perform fit testing.
12. Can employees check the fit of their own respirator?
Yes, employees using tight-fitting facepiece respirators are required to perform a user seal check each time they put on the respirator. They must use the procedures in Appendix B-1 of T8 CCR5144 (described below), or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures. Note that a fit test is a method used to select the right size respirator for the user. A user seal check is a method to verify that the user has put on the respirator correctly and that it is properly adjusted.
- For a positive-pressure check: Close off the exhalation valve and exhale gently into the facepiece. The face fit is considered satisfactory if a slight positive pressure can be built up inside the facepiece without any evidence of outward leakage of air at the seal. For most respirators, this method of leak testing requires the wearer to first remove the exhalation valve cover, close off the exhalation valve, and then carefully replace it after the test.
- For a negative-pressure check: Close off the inlet opening of the canister or cartridge(s) by covering with the palm of the hand(s) or by replacing the filter seal(s), inhale gently so that the facepiece collapses slightly, and hold breath for ten seconds. The design of the inlet opening of some cartridges cannot be effectively covered with the palm of the hand. The test can be performed by covering the inlet opening of the cartridge with a thin latex or nitrile glove. If the facepiece remains in its slightly collapsed condition and no inward leakage of air is detected, the tightness of the respirator is considered satisfactory.
13. When is respirator fit testing required?
Fit testing of all negative- or positive-pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirators must be performed before initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter. An additional fit test is required whenever there are changes in the user’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g. facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight). The employee must be fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used.
14. What can be done if an employee has a very small face and has trouble being fit tested for a respirator?
Manufacturers make several different sizes. Respirators may also vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. A respirator made by another manufacturer may offer a better fit. In some cases, the use of powered air-purifying respirators may be appropriate. EH&S will help employees find a suitable respirator.
15. What can be done if employees find it difficult to talk with co-workers when wearing a respirator?
Some respirators may interfere with speech more than others. Devices that enhance speech communication are available. Ask EH&S if there are alternatives.
16. If employees have a beard or moustache, is their respirator still effective?
Tight-fitting facepiece respirators must not be worn by employees who have facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face, or that interferes with valve function. Respirators that do not rely on a tight face seal (e.g. hoods or helmets) may be used by employees with facial hair.
17. Can employees wear glasses while wearing a respirator?
Yes, but if an employee wears corrective glasses, goggles, or other personal protective equipment, the employer must ensure that such equipment is worn in a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face. Kits are available from respirator manufacturers that allow the mounting of prescription lenses inside the respirator.
Contact lenses can be worn with any type of respirator, but their use is not recommended in dusty atmospheres while wearing a half-mask facepiece.
Respirator maintenance and storage
18. Can a respirator be used by more than one person? How often should it be cleaned and disinfected?
Disposable respirators cannot be disinfected, and are therefore assigned to only one person. Disposable respirators must be discarded if they are soiled, physically damaged, or reach the end of their service life. Replaceable filter respirators may be shared, but must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use before being worn by a different person, using the procedures in Appendix B-2 of T8 CCR5144 (or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures).
19. How long can a particulate respirator be used before it must be replaced?
Respirators with replaceable filters are reusable, and a respirator classified as disposable may be reused by the same worker as long as it functions properly. All filters must be replaced whenever they are damaged, soiled, or cause noticeably increased breathing resistance (i.e. cause discomfort to the user). Before each use, the outside of the filter material should be inspected. If the filter material is physically damaged or soiled, the filter should be changed (in the case of respirators with replaceable filters) or the respirator discarded (in the case of disposable respirators).
Supervisors must develop standard operating procedures for storing, reusing, and disposing of respirators that have been designated as disposable, and for disposing of replaceable filter elements.
20. What is the proper way to store a respirator that is used routinely?
Respirators must be stored to protect them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals. They must also be packed or stored to prevent deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve. A good method is to place them in individual storage bins. Keep in mind that, if respirator facepieces are hung on a peg for a long period of time, they will become distorted, and the straps will lose their elasticity. Check for these problems before each use.
Do not store the respirator in a plastic sealable bag after use. The respirator may be damp after use. Sealing prevents drying and encourages microbial growth. If plastic bags are used, respirators must be allowed to dry before storage.
21. Are there any additional requirements for the storage of emergency respirators?
Emergency respirators must be kept accessible to the work area and stored in compartments, or in covers that are clearly marked as containing emergency respirators. Any applicable manufacturer instructions for storage must also be followed.