Respirators/Dust Masks-Required and Voluntary

Important: Do This First

Procedures

The use of respirators/dust masks is determined by department management based on the results of an initial Environmental Airborne Hazard Evaluation of the workplace.  The evaluation must be done with the assistance of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office. 

After the Hazard Evaluation proceed to:

  1. When respirator use is “required” – use “Required Respirator Program” section of this document.
  2. When respirator use is “not required” but will be allowed – use “Voluntary Respirator Program” section of this document.
  3. When no respirator use will occur – respirator requirements are completed.

Department management, using the results of the onsite evaluation, will determine locations where respirator use is “required” and where respirator use is not required but allowed on a “voluntary” basis.

Glossary

Authorized employee - An employee approved by department management to use a respirator.

Dust mask – Common name for a type of respirator used to filter particulate material from the ambient air.

Filtering face piece - A negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the face piece or with the entire face piece composed of the filtering medium. A dust mask.

Respirator – An air-filtering device worn over the mouth or nose or both to protect the respiratory tract of the user from hazardous gas, vapor or particulate materials in the ambient air.

Respirator program administrator – A person (qualified by appropriate training or experience that is commensurate with the complexity of the program) to administer or oversee the department required respiratory protection program and evaluate program effectiveness.

Tight fitting face piece – A negative pressure respirator with a tight fitting face piece made of elastomers such as rubber or silicone. Depending on type of filter or cartridge used, may be used for vapor or particulates. 

Voluntary use - The use of a respirator in atmospheres which are not hazardous.

Required Respirator Program

Purpose

The purpose of this program is to assure that each respirator user is adequately protected from air contaminants of concern under routine and emergency situations; that respirators are kept clean, sanitary, and maintained in good operating condition; and that respirators are used by employees who have been properly fitted and trained. 

Policy and Regulations    

University of Iowa Operations Manual, Part III Human Resources, Division II Standards and Ethics, 

Chapter 16.4.d Policy on Ethics and Responsibilities for University of Iowa Staff.

OSHA General Industry Regulation 29 CFR 1090.134

UI Respiratory Medical Evaluation and Fit Test Policy for University Employees (Non-UIHC) April 2010

Responsibilities

Department Director

The director of the department (Director) is solely responsible for this program and has full authority to make necessary decisions to ensure its success. The director has assigned responsibility for implementation and day-to-day operation of the respirator program to a designated Respirator Program 

Administrator.

The Respirator Program Administrator is     _______________________________________.

The Respirator Program Administrator (RPA) will maintain a level of expertise commensurate with the complexity of the program in the department. The RPA will review workplace use of respirators as often as needed (at a minimum annually) to ensure elements of the written program are successfully maintained. If at any time there is a question regarding hazard determination or appropriate selection and use of respirators, the RPA will seek consultation from EHS.  The RPA will keep the current list of employees authorized for respirator use and fit test records and furnish copies to EHS.

Supervisors

Supervisors are responsible to ensure that employees follow procedures for medicals, fit tests, and training requirements, that they use and maintain the respirator properly, and that they report changes in exposure conditions to the RPA. 

Employees 

Employees shall obtain required medical checks, fit tests, and training, and wear the appropriate properly fitted NIOSH approved respirator (as recorded in the “List of Employees Authorized for Respirator Use”) when working in an area requiring respirator use. Employees shall report changes in exposure conditions to the Department RPA. 

Environmental Health & Safety

The Environmental Health & Safety will work with the department to conduct hazard assessments, set up the initial program, provide consultation as needed, periodically review effectiveness of the department program, and serve as the central HR repository for copies of records of fit tests and the list of authorized users in each department. 

Selection of Respirators

Hazard S​urvey

Departments are to survey their work areas for respiratory hazards with the help of EHS or other experts on respiratory hazards.

Selection Criteria

Where hazard evaluation data indicates the need for respiratory protection, the department provides the employee an appropriate respirator model with acceptable fit at no cost. 

Respirator selection is based on hazards the staff member is exposed to, and use factors affecting performance and reliability.  Only NIOSH certified respirators are used.  If the concentration for a hazardous air contaminant has not been determined for an area, do not enter it.  

Selection and use of respirators for department employees includes consideration of the following:

  • Estimate of exposure hazard
  • Chemical and physical form of contaminant
  • Characteristics of the hazardous operations or processes
  • Location of hazardous areas
  • Period of time which respiratory protection may be needed
  • Activity of workers in the hazardous areas
  • Physical characteristics, capabilities, and limitations of various types of respirators
  • Respirator protection factors and respirator fit

Limitations of Use

Department employees are only allowed to wear the air purifying respirators they are fitted for, and when applicable, those that meet the appropriate change out schedule for cartridges and filters. 

Department employees cannot perform work in other departments requiring a respirator unless EHS or another authority on respiratory hazards has completed a hazard survey and their respirators are found to be adequate.

Air purifying respirators shall not be used under the following conditions:

  • Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) atmospheres.
  • Oxygen deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5% oxygen).
  • Situations where contaminants lack sufficient warning properties.
  • Atmospheres containing unknown contaminants or concentrations.
  • Atmospheres containing contaminant concentrations exceeding maximum use concentration of the respirator or cartridge.

Only self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or airline respirators with an emergency escape supply shall be used to enter areas with unknown hazardous air contaminant concentration or in IDLH situations.

Medical Evaluations and Fit Testing​

Medical evaluations are provided at UEHC as follows:

Initial Medical Ev​aluation

  • All Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).  Evaluation includes a medical questionnaire and a medical examination.
  • All “Required Use” respirator users (except SCBA users):  Evaluation consists of completing a questionnaire or seeing the HCP, or both, at the discretion of the HCP.

Annual Medical E​valuation after initial evaluation: 

  • All Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).  Evaluation includes a medical questionnaire and a medical examination.
  • All “Required Use” respirators except SCBAs:  Evaluation consists of completion of a medical questionnaire presented in person for review by UEHC staff.  Medical examination may be optional if UEHC staff’s review of the questionnaire determines an exam is not required. 

Additional Respirator Medical Eva​luations are performed in the following situations: 

  • An employee reports medical signs or symptoms related to his/her ability to use a respirator.
  • Health Care Provider (HCP), supervisor, or the department’s respirator program administrator informs the employer that an employee needs to be reevaluated;
  • Information from the respiratory protection program, including observations made during fit testing and program evaluation, indicates a need for employee reevaluation; or
  • A change occurs in workplace conditions (e.g., physical work effort, protective clothing, or temperature) that may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on an employee.
  • Individual departments may (based on the hazards to which employee exposed) request that certain staff undergo medical clearance for respirator use and also undergo a baseline only or yearly medical examination by UEHC.

As of January 2017, the medical questionnaire will be filled out online before going to the employee health clinic. Instructions for completing the questionnaire

Student help will have the respirator medical evaluations performed by Student Health Service. 

All department employees required to use a tight fitting face piece respirator will be fit tested with the same make, model, style and size respirator they will use. 

Fit testing will be performed before initial use of a respirator, at least annually thereafter, and whenever conditions (such as employee's physical condition) change that could affect respirator fit.  

Fit testing protocols and procedures are in the most recent version of Appendix A of OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.134 respirator regulations. Fit tests will be recorded on the forms included with the UI Respiratory Medical Evaluation and Fit Test Policy for University Employees (Non-UIHC) April 2010.

Qualitative fit testing is performed by the department. EHS offers training for the person performing the qualitative fit tests for their department employees (protection factor limited to 10X). Quantitative fit testing is performed by EHS or other qualified source. 

Fit testing requires the respirator user to handle the respirator, have it fitted properly, test the facepiece-to-face seal, and to wear it in normal air for a familiarity period.

Respirators modified for fit testing shall be returned to the NIOSH-approved configuration before using the respirator in the workplace.

Routine and Emergency Situations​

Respirators shall be put on before entering a work area with a hazardous atmosphere. Employees wearing tight fitting respirators shall perform a successful user seal check using procedures from Appendix B 1 of OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.134 each time they put on the respirator. 

The respirator shall not be removed while in the hazardous atmosphere. 

Employees are not permitted to enter IDLH atmospheres, unknown hazardous atmospheres, or any hazardous atmosphere that exceeds the capability of their assigned respirators.

Respirators are not worn when conditions prevent a good face piece to face seal or interfere with valve function. Such conditions may be a growth of beard, sideburns, a skull cap that projects under the face piece, temple pieces on glasses, goggles or other personal protective equipment, or the absence of one or both dentures.

Employees wearing respirators in hazardous atmospheres must leave the required respirator use area:

  • To wash face and respirator face piece as necessary to prevent eye or skin irritation from use.
  • If they detect vapor or gas breakthrough, changes in breathing resistance, or leakage of the face piece.
  • To replace the respirator or filter, cartridge, or canister elements.

When a respirator user in a hazardous atmosphere detects vapor or gas breakthrough, breathing resistance changes, or face piece leakage, the department must replace or repair the respirator before the employee returns to the work area.  If during respirator use a change occurs in work conditions that could result in higher air contaminant levels, the employee will leave the contaminated area until the air contaminant concentration can be determined and the correct respirator provided.  If during use the respirator fails or the air contaminant(s) is detected by the respirator user, he/she will leave the area immediately and not return until the respirator problem is corrected.

If respirators will be used for emergency situations, the department must add specific procedures to the written program. 

If airline respirators will be used, the department must add procedures to the written program.

Maintenance Procedures and Schedules

Respirators will be regularly cleaned, disinfected, inspected, repaired, stored, and when necessary, discarded.  Guides for these procedures for common respirators used on campus are found in Section 11 (Resources and Guides) in this program.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Respirators will be cleaned and sanitized using procedures which follows protocols of Appendix B 2 of OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.134 regulations. Respirators used routinely will be inspected during cleaning and worn or deteriorated parts will be replaced.

Inspection

Respirators are inspected before each use and after cleaning, checking respirator function, tightness of connections, condition of parts (including face piece, head straps, valves, filtering elements), and for any deterioration or loss of pliability of elastomeric (e.g., rubber or silicone) parts.

Respirator Repairs

Respirators failing inspection or found defective are removed from service. Adjust, repair, or discard respirators using the following procedures:

  • Respirator repairs or adjustments are only done by properly trained personnel using parts designed for the respirator according to manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Discard respirators permanently removed from service so they do not return to service.

Storage

All respirators are to be stored in a clean and sanitary location to protect them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, damaging chemicals, and to prevent face piece and exhalation valve deformation.

Training

Training is required prior to use in workplace, annually, and more frequently if necessary to ensure safe respirator use.

General training for air purifying respirators may be accomplished using EHS ICON.

Site-specific training will be provided by personnel qualified to teach the information.  This may be accomplished in conjunction with the annual fit test.

Record Keeping​

All records listed below will be kept for the duration of employment of the affected staff members plus at least one year (30 years recommended). 

The Respirator Program Administrator will maintain the following records:

UEHC maintains medical evaluation records.

Program Evaluations

The Respirator Program Administrator shall maintain appropriate surveillance of work area conditions and employee exposure. The RPA monitors the effectiveness of the program by making unscheduled observations of where respirators are used to confirm proper respirator use, and by discussing specific aspects of the respirator program with personnel during appropriate scheduled meetings. Issues identified during surveillance are corrected. A guide is found in Section 11 (Resources and Guides). Problems or issues identified will be corrected. If a change is noted that has potential to increase employee exposure, contact EHS to determine is modifications are necessary.

Resources and Guides

See Resources and Guides in this Section.  Also, the EHS web site has supporting resources, training offerings, audit samples, and contacts for assistance.

  1. List of Employees Authorized for Required Respirator Use
  2. Summary of Required Respirator Program Elements
  3. Guide for Program Evaluation
  4. Guide for Using and Maintaining an Air Purifying Respirator
    1. Inspection
    2. Putting On (Donning)
    3. User Seal Checks
    4. Removing (Doffing) Respirator
    5. Cleaning and Sanitizing
    6. Respirator Repairs
    7. Respirator Storage

List of Employees A​uthorized for Required Respirator Use

Only authorized employees may use a respirator. Employees must complete all requirements of the required use respirator program before using a respirator. 

The authorization table lists employee names, their job classification, type of respirator, and the location or operation where respirator use is required. 

Summary of Required Respira​tor Program Elements

Program Element

Action

Evaluate Workplace Airborne Hazards Require respirator use only if engineering or administrative controls are not possible to control exposure.
Respirator Program Administrator (RPA) Include name of RPA in written program. Ensure training is commensurate with complexity of program.
Written Department Specific Program Use template and include in the authorization table the routine and foreseeable emergency situations (operations/locations) when respirator use is allowed.
Select Respirator(s) Select appropriate NIOSH respirators
Medical Requirements  Contact University Employee Health Clinic for employees and Student Health Service for students. Initial evaluation at UEHC.  SCBA annual UEHC.  Annual questionnaire at UEHC (non-SCBA).
Fit testing Initial, annual and prior to use on every make, model, style, and size respirator worn.
Training Initial and annual for each type of respirator assigned to employee.
Maintenance Written program must include procedures to inspect, clean, disinfect, repair, and store respirators per manufacturer recommendations and OSHA requirements.
Recordkeeping Hazard Evaluation, written program, program evaluations, OSHA rules, list of employees approved to wear a respirator plus medical, fit test, and training records.
Program Evaluation RPA must continually spot check program effectiveness, changes, and employee compliance.

Guide for Program Evaluation

The OSHA standard is performance-oriented and states that the program shall be updated as necessary to reflect changes in workplace conditions and respirator use. The Department RPA must maintain awareness of respirator use in the workplace to ensure that continuous successful implementation of all program elements is being achieved. 

Frequency of evaluation is based on the complexity and factors such as the hazard, types of respirator in use, variability of processes and operations, numbers of users, and worker experience. 

Respiratory Program Evaluation Form

Guide for Using and Maintaining an Air Purifying Respirator

The following are general procedures for use and maintenance of reusable air purifying respirators.  Departments can use these procedures provided they supplement them with more specific information provided by the manufacturer of the respirator that will be used.  Procedures for other types of respirators (PAPR, Airline, and SCBA) require following the manufacturer’s procedures with assistance from EHS as needed.

Inspection

  1. Inspect face piece for:
    • cracks, tears, or holes
    • distortion (allow face piece to sit free from constraints to determine if distortion has occurred)
    • cracked or broken air purifying element holders, badly worn threads, or worn or missing gaskets
    • cracked, scratched, or loose-fitting lens on full face models
  2. Inspect head straps for:
    • breaks or tears
    • loss of elasticity
    • broken or malfunctioning buckles or attachments
  3. Inspect inhalation and exhalation valves for:
    • cracks, tears, or distortion in valve material or valve seat
    • defects in exhalation valve cover
  4. Inspect air purifying filters/cartridges for:
    • adequacy to protect against the hazard
    • worn filter and face piece threads
    • cracks or dents in filter housing
    • end of service life indicator (if applicable)
    • legible NIOSH approved labels and color codes

Putting On (Donning)

  1. Inspect respirator (see above) 
  2. Confirm that air-purifying elements are those required to protect against air contaminants expected and that they are installed properly. 
  3. Place respirator face piece on face with the chin properly located in chin pocket.
  4. Position straps or harness on head per manufacturer’s instructions and tighten straps to hold face piece in place.
  5. Adjust face piece for comfort and re-tighten straps/harness if required. 

User Seal Checks

  1. Perform positive user seal check by lightly placing the palm of the hand over exhalation valve cover and gently exhaling. A slight positive pressure should build up inside respirator. If any leakage is detected, readjust straps and repeat test until no leakage occurs. 
  2. Perform negative user seal check by placing the palms of the hands over the cartridges and gently inhaling. A slight negative pressure should build up inside respirator. If any leakage is detected, readjust straps and repeat test until no leakage occurs.

Removing (Doffing) Respirator

  1. Loosen or unhook respirator straps/harness.
  2. Remove face piece from face.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Respirator users must clean their respirator after use with respirator wipes, or clean it more completely using the following procedure:

  1. Remove cartridges/filters and all removable gaskets.  Dispose of expired cartridges/filters, do not wash or disinfect used cartridges.
  2. Disassemble respirator, including valves, straps, and cartridge holders (nose cup assembly and speaker diaphragm on full-face models).
  3. Clean respirator parts:
    • Immerse them in warm soap and water solution or commercial cleaner/sanitizer.
    • Gently scrub face piece and parts with a cloth or a stiff bristle (not wire) brush.
    • Remove foreign matter from surfaces of exhalation valve and seats.
    • Rinse parts thoroughly in clean, warm, preferably running water.  Drain.
  4. If cleaner does not contain a sanitizer, then sanitize parts by immersing for two minutes in a water solution containing:
  • Commercial cleaner/sanitizer, or
  • Two tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water, or one teaspoon of tincture of iodine per gallon of water.
  1. Thoroughly rinse parts with clean, warm, preferably running water.  Drain. 
  2. Allow parts to air-dry in a clean location.
  3. Reassemble respirator by reversing steps used to disassemble.  Install new cartridges if needed.

Respirator Repairs

Respirators failing inspection or found defective are removed from service. Adjust, repair, or discarded respirators using the following procedures:

  1. Reassemble respirator by reversing steps used to disassemble.  Install new cartridges if needed.
  2. Respirator repairs or adjustments are only done by properly trained personnel using NIOSHapproved parts designed for the respirator and; repairs are made according to manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications for type and extent of repairs to be performed; and when required, repairs are made by manufacturer or manufacturer trained technician.
  3. Discard respirators permanently removed from service so they do not return to service. 

Respirator Storage

  1. Store respirators in a clean sealed container while not in use.  Clean nylon gym bags are acceptable.
  2. Stored in a clean dry place.  Do not distort rubber face piece during storage.

Voluntary Respirator Use​

Scope and Purpose​

At this time, respirator use is not required to perform operations at locations where voluntary respirator use is allowed because no overexposure or potential for overexposure to hazardous air contaminants exists under these conditions. Thus, voluntary respirator use focuses on the ability to wear a respirator without aggravating a medical condition and keeping the respirator clean to prevent dermatitis and other skin hazards.

 

Department Director _________________________ Date __________

Glossary

Authorized employee - An employee approved by department management to use a respirator.

Dust mask – common name for a type of respirator used to filter particulate material from the ambient air.

Filtering face piece - A negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the face piece or with the entire face piece composed of the filtering medium. A dust mask.

Respirator – An air-filtering device worn over the mouth or nose or both to protect the respiratory tract of the user from hazardous gas, vapor or particulate materials in the ambient air.

Tight fitting face piece – A negative pressure respirator with a tight fitting face piece made of elastomers such as rubber or silicone. Depending on type of filter or cartridge used, may be used for vapor or particulates.

Voluntary use - The use of a respirator in atmospheres which are not hazardous.

Worksite Specific Procedures

Survey for Respiratory Hazards 
Determine Respirator Selection and Locations/Operations for Use 
Provide OSHA-Required Information to All Voluntary Respirator Users 
Additional Requirements to Complete for Tight Fitting Rubber or Silicone Facepieces 
Periodically Evaluate Performance

Survey for Respiratory Hazards

Department work areas have been surveyed for respiratory hazards (with the help of EHS). It has been determined that no hazardous level of airborne contamination exists or could exist while performing the work activities listed in this program at the locations listed.

Determine Respirator Selection and Locations/Operations for Use

  • Department Management must approve the respirator selected.
  • Any respirator may be used as a voluntary use respirator provided it does not create a health or safety risk.
  • Employees may only use the voluntary use respirators that they are authorized for.
  • Employees are prohibited from using a voluntary use respirator in other departments.
  • Fit testing is not required for voluntary use respirators because respirator use is not necessary.
  • Voluntary respirators may only be used as authorized by the department.
  • In locations where respirator use is required, voluntary respirators are prohibited.
  • In locations where any overexposure could occur, voluntary respirators are prohibited.

Provide OSHA-Required Information to All Voluntary Respirator Users

Departments must provide to each voluntary user the mandatory awareness information in Appendix D of the OSHA respirator standard. This is a one-time requirement that may be met using the EHS ICON online course titled “Respirator: Voluntary Use” or an equivalent method.

Additional Requirements to Complete for Tight Fitting Rubber or Silicone Facepieces

If the voluntary respirator is a tight fitting ELASTOMERIC face piece (usually made of rubber or silicone) there are additional OSHA requirements.

  • The employee must first receive an initial medical evaluation at University Employee Health Clinic to ensure the user is able to wear it without aggravating a medical condition and can tolerate the increased breathing resistance. See the University Policy for Medical Evaluation.
  • The department must provide use and maintenance procedures to the employee and monitor the use of the respirator to ensure it is kept clean to prevent dermatitis and other skin hazards.

A copy of “Respirator Maintenance Procedures for Tight Fitting Rubber or Silicone Face pieces” is provided.

Periodically Evaluate Performance

Department management must periodically evaluate performance of voluntary respirator use. OSHA does not have a specified annual review. Rather, through frequent observation, if exposure conditions change, additional work area respiratory hazard surveys will be done as needed or required.

Resources and Guides

See Resources and Guides in this Section. Also, the EHS web site has supporting resources, training offerings, audit samples, and contacts for assistance.