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Respiratory Protection Program

As part of its continuing effort to reduce exposure and risk to MC employees, the Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES) Office has implemented this Respiratory Protection Program to provide information on the use of air purifying respirators. This written program is intended to comply with the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) as monitored by Maryland Occupational Safety & Health (MOSH). Compliance is due by October 5, 1998.

This program is designed to help reduce employee exposures to excessive levels of dusts, fumes, mists, gases, and vapors. Where feasible, exposures to contaminants will be eliminated or reduced by engineering controls (e.g., general and local ventilation, enclosure and isolation, and substitution). When engineering controls are not capable of reducing exposure to acceptable levels or are not feasible, the use of personal respiratory protective equipment becomes necessary.


The department supervisor is responsible for implementing this Respiratory Protection Program for his/her department. He/she serves as the first contact for employees concerned with respiratory protection. In addition, information and support is available through the Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES). For a respiratory protection program to be effective, a cooperative effort between the department, the employee and PHES must occur.

Identification and Measurements of Hazards

PHES will evaluate the need for respiratory protection. Specific jobs or activities that require the use of respiratory equipment will be determined. PHES will recommend to the department supervisor in writing which employees, if any, be included in the Respiratory Protection Program. The department supervisor may request an evaluation by submitting a Request for Respirator Need Assessment, which may be found on our Main Page under Popular Services Tab.

To determine the need for respiratory protection, the hazards must be identified and evaluated. Upon request from the department, PHES will review a job/activity in the department. Air monitoring, in accordance with accepted industrial hygiene practices, may be performed to evaluate a work area or a particular activity. Monitoring will help identify those areas or activities which require engineering controls, administrative controls, or, if those are not feasible, respiratory protection.

If it is determined that respiratory protection is not necessary or required under the standard, an employee may use his/her own respirator if PHES determines that such respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. PHES will provide the employee with Appendix Dnew window, "Information for Voluntary Respirator Use."

Periodic measurement of the hazards is necessary to ensure that the proper type of respirator is being utilized. If conditions change, PHES must be notified, so that the need for respiratory protection can be re-evaluated.

Respirator Selection

Respirator options are determined by Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES). Only respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will be selected. The selection is based upon the physical and chemical properties of the air contaminant and the concentration level likely to be encountered by the employee. Only respirator models and brands specified by PHES shall be used. It is the responsibility of the department to purchase the appropriate respirators for the department. Replacement parts must be purchased from the original manufacturer for a respirator to maintain its NIOSH approval. If PHES determines that it is beneficial to the program, respirators may be provided initially to a department; replacement units and parts will be the responsibility of the using department.

Written records for all respirators must be maintained. See Appendix B (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window) , a sample form that provides a list of the department employees wearing respirators, an inventory of all respirators owned by the department, the reasons (hazards/activities) for each respirator, and the NIOSH certification number for each respirator. A completed copy will be kept by the department and PHES.

Medical Assessment of Employee Health

Using a respirator may place a physiological burden on employees that can vary with the type of respirator worn, the job and workplace conditions in which the respirator is used, and the medical status of the employee. After it is determined that respiratory protection is necessary, a physician must evaluate the employee. The physician, through a medical history and a physical, will determine if the employee's health allows him or her to wear a respirator. The results (pass/fail/conditions of use) of the medical evaluation will be reported to Public Health & Environmental Safety, which will inform the department supervisor.

The physical examinations will be conducted annually for all employees who are required to wear respirators for specific tasks. Medical exams may be provided for those who wear respirators infrequently (less than 30 days per year), and for those who voluntarily choose to use a respirator.

Fit Testing Procedures

Before any employee may be required to use a respirator with a negative or positive pressure tight-fitting face-piece, the employee must be fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size respirator that will be used. This applies to all tight-fitting respirators, including air purifying and SCBA. Fit testing will be repeated on an annual basis and usually on the day of the annual physical.

The OSHA-mandated fit-testing procedures used at the College are attached as Appendix A (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window) .

Air purifying respirators should be cleaned by the user with warm water and a mild detergent and/or disinfected with alcohol after each use. Before donning each time, the respirator should be inspected for cracks, dents or any other signs of wear. Respirators must be stored in a clean, dry place out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Cartridges and filters should be replaced the end of the work shift. HEPA cartridges should be replaced at least annually and more frequently depending on use.

Cleaning and inspection procedures are specific to the type and brand of respirator (parts differ).

No employee will be permitted to work with a respirator until he or she has received training in respiratory protection. The training will be provided by Public Health & Environmental Safety at the time of fit-testing and will cover the following topics:

  • Explanation of the hazard and what would happen if respiratory protection was not used.
  • Elements of the Respiratory Protection Program and the employee's responsibility.
  • Selection of respiratory protection and who is authorized to modify the selection.
  • The purpose of the fit test and medical evaluation requirements.
  • Function, capabilities, and limitations of the selected respiratory protection.
  • Explanation of the operation of the respiratory protection, including how to don, check the fit, and wear the respirator properly.
  • Respirator maintenance including cleaning, inspection, and storage.
  • Recognition and handling of emergency situations.

For each employee assigned a respirator, the following records will be maintained in the noted locations:
Record Maintained by:

  • Respirator Clearance (medical approval) forms Examining physician; Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES) office; Employee's supervisor.
  • Training Records Workday
  • Fit Testing Records PHES office; Employee's supervisor

All records related to respiratory protection will be available to the affected employee and his/her representative within forty-eight hours of receiving a written request in the Public Health & Environmental Safety office.

 This program will be reviewed at least annually by the Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES) staff and updated as necessary. Affected departments will review at any time and submit proposed changes to PHES.

What you need to know:

  • Recognize potential hazards and contact Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES) for evaluation.
  • Purchase respirators and associated equipment.
  • Follow this written program and submit changes as needed.
  • Notify PHES of new individuals requiring respiratory protection.
  • Spot check respirators periodically.
  • Maintain records of employee fit-testing, medical clearances, and training.
  • Enforce the use of respiratory protection, when necessary.
  • Recognize and report potential hazards to Supervisor.
  • Use respiratory protection as instructed.
  • Attend training and fit-testing annually.
  • Inspect respirator for defects or missing parts.
  • Clean and store respirator as instructed.
  • Participate in medical evaluations as required.
  • Identify and evaluate respiratory hazards
  • Select appropriate respiratory protection options.
  • Budget, schedule and coordinate annual medical exams.
  • Conduct initial and periodic training and fit-testing.
  • Perform periodic reevaluations of exposures.
  • Maintain records of fit-testing, medical clearances and training.
  • Audit program periodically.

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