The respiratory protection program is governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) under 29 CFR 1910.134. Many people believe buying and using a respirator is no more complicated than any other personal protective equipment (PPE), like a pair of gloves. However, there are many federal requirements that go along with wearing a respirator such as medical evaluations, fit testing, and training. Even the decision of which type of respirator to buy, or which type of cartridge you need can be a complicated one. Call us before purchasing a respirator or beginning any operation where you feel respiratory protection might be necessary.
UAF Respiratory Protection Policy - This document covers UAF policy, as well as, training and medical exam requirements.
Requently Asked Questions: Respirators
How do I know if I need a respirator?
- Call or email Tracey Martinson at 474-6771. Be prepared to answer questions such as what material are you working with, how is it applied, and how long you work with it. It is also useful to have a Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) available.
When is respirator fit testing required?
- Fit testing of all tight-fitting facepiece respirators is required prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator 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.
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 procedures in Appendix B-2 of 29 CFR 1910.134, or equally effective procedures recommended by the manufacturer.
Can I wear glasses while wearing my respirator?
- Yes, but if an employee wears corrective glasses or 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 of the users. Kits are available from all respirator manufacturers that allow the mounting of prescription lenses inside full-face respirators.
Can I wear contact lenses with my respirator?
- Yes. While OSHA believes that contact lenses do not pose additional hazards to the wearer, they warn that contact lenses are not eye protection devices. If eye hazards are present, appropriate eye protection must be worn instead of, or in conjunction with, contact lenses. Also, their use is not recommended in dust atmospheres while wearing a half-mask respirator.
I would like to wear a filtering facepiece device (dust mask.) Is there anything I should know?
- First of all, you need to think about what you are using the device for. For instance, many people use a dust mask for painting, when most of these types of devices are only good for particulates (which will not protect you from potentially dangerous vapors in paint.) Also, you cannot be fit tested on a dust mask, so there is no way of determining the protection factor. Therefore, these masks are to be used for comfort purposes only. You should have any condition that you are unsure of evaluated by EHS&RM prior to work.
Is it okay to wear a beard with my respirator?
- It is okay to have facial hair as long as it does not interfere with the respirator seal or valves. A mustache or goatee may be worn as long as all of the facial hair is contained within and does not affect the seal or respirator. Also, you should not have more than one day of growth of facial hair when wearing a respirator. Respirators that do not rely on a tight face seal, such as hoods or helmets, may be used by bearded individuals.