OSHA Respiratory Protection Course
29 CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection Standard and Sub-standards
The air we breathe is mostly oxygen and nitrogen — but it still contains trace amounts of harmful gases, smoke, vapors, and dust produced by us and the environment. Fortunately, our lungs have a series of mechanical and biological barriers that keep such contaminants from harming us. With repeated overexposure to toxins, these protective barriers break down, resulting in irritation, discomfort, or disease. We may not even be aware of the damage until it’s too late.
Business owners or managers who want basic information about protecting your employees from respiratory hazards, should take this course. The course summarizes respiratory hazards, how to evaluate the hazards, and how to control them. And, describes what employers should know before their employees use respirators.
You’ll learn about the basic types of respirators and what you need to do to develop an effective respiratory protection program – an essential requirement of OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, 1910.134. This standard specifies what you must do to ensure that your employees use respirators safely and responsibly.
OSHA Respiratory Protection - Curriculum
About Respiratory Hazards
The Respiratory Protection Program
Medical Evaluations and Fit Testing
Lessons in this module:
- Medical Evaluations
- Medical Determination
- Fit Testing
- Policies and Procedures for Using Respirators
- Identification of Filters, Cartridges, and Canisters
Inspection and Training
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1910.134 – Respiratory protection.
- Part Number:1910
- Part Number Title:Occupational Safety and Health Standards
- Subpart:1910 Subpart I
- Subpart Title:Personal Protective Equipment
- Standard Number:
- Title:Respiratory protection.
- GPO Source:
This section applies to General Industry (part 1910), Shipyards (part 1915), Marine Terminals (part 1917), Longshoring (part 1918), and Construction (part 1926).
In the control of those occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors, the primary objective shall be to prevent atmospheric contamination. This shall be accomplished as far as feasible by accepted engineering control measures (for example, enclosure or confinement of the operation, general and local ventilation, and substitution of less toxic materials). When effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted, appropriate respirators shall be used pursuant to this section.
A respirator shall be provided to each employee when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of such employee. The employer shall provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended. The employer shall be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a respiratory protection program, which shall include the requirements outlined in paragraph (c) of this section. The program shall cover each employee required by this section to use a respirator.
Definitions. The following definitions are important terms used in the respiratory protection standard in this section.
Air-purifying respirator means a respirator with an air-purifying filter, cartridge, or canister that removes specific air contaminants by passing ambient air through the air-purifying element.
Assigned protection factor (APF) means the workplace level of respiratory protection that a respirator or class of respirators is expected to provide to employees when the employer implements a continuing, effective respiratory protection program as specified by this section.
Atmosphere-supplying respirator means a respirator that supplies the respirator user with breathing air from a source independent of the ambient atmosphere, and includes supplied-air respirators (SARs) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units.
Canister or cartridge means a container with a filter, sorbent, or catalyst, or combination of these items, which removes specific contaminants from the air passed through the container.
Demand respirator means an atmosphere-supplying respirator that admits breathing air to the facepiece only when a negative pressure is created inside the facepiece by inhalation.
Emergency situation means any occurrence such as, but not limited to, equipment failure, rupture of containers, or failure of control equipment that may or does result in an uncontrolled significant release of an airborne contaminant.
Employee exposure means exposure to a concentration of an airborne contaminant that would occur if the employee were not using respiratory protection.
End-of-service-life indicator (ESLI) means a system that warns the respirator user of the approach of the end of adequate respiratory protection, for example, that the sorbent is approaching saturation or is no longer effective.
Escape-only respirator means a respirator intended to be used only for emergency exit.
Filter or air purifying element means a component used in respirators to remove solid or liquid aerosols from the inspired air.
Filtering facepiece (dust mask) means a negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the facepiece or with the entire facepiece composed of the filtering medium.
Fit factor means a quantitative estimate of the fit of a particular respirator to a specific individual, and typically estimates the ratio of the concentration of a substance in ambient air to its concentration inside the respirator when worn.
Fit test means the use of a protocol to qualitatively or quantitatively evaluate the fit of a respirator on an individual. (See also Qualitative fit test QLFT and Quantitative fit test QNFT.)
Helmet means a rigid respiratory inlet covering that also provides head protection against impact and penetration.
High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter means a filter that is at least 99.97% efficient in removing monodisperse particles of 0.3 micrometers in diameter. The equivalent NIOSH 42 CFR 84 particulate filters are the N100, R100, and P100 filters.
Hood means a respiratory inlet covering that completely covers the head and neck and may also cover portions of the shoulders and torso.
Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) means an atmosphere that poses an immediate threat to life, would cause irreversible adverse health effects, or would impair an individual’s ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere.
Interior structural firefighting means the physical activity of fire suppression, rescue or both, inside of buildings or enclosed structures which are involved in a fire situation beyond the incipient stage. (See 29 CFR 1910.155)
Loose-fitting facepiece means a respiratory inlet covering that is designed to form a partial seal with the face.
Maximum use concentration (MUC) means the maximum atmospheric concentration of a hazardous substance from which an employee can be expected to be protected when wearing a respirator, and is determined by the assigned protection factor of the respirator or class of respirators and the exposure limit of the hazardous substance. The MUC can be determined mathematically by multiplying the assigned protection factor specified for a respirator by the required OSHA permissible exposure limit, short-term exposure limit, or ceiling limit. When no OSHA exposure limit is available for a hazardous substance, an employer must determine an MUC on the basis of relevant available information and informed professional judgment.
Negative pressure respirator (tight fitting) means a respirator in which the air pressure inside the facepiece is negative during inhalation with respect to the ambient air pressure outside the respirator.
Oxygen deficient atmosphere means an atmosphere with an oxygen content below 19.5% by volume.
Physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) means an individual whose legally permitted scope of practice (i.e., license, registration, or certification) allows him or her to independently provide, or be delegated the responsibility to provide, some or all of the health care services required by paragraph (e) of this section.
Positive pressure respirator means a respirator in which the pressure inside the respiratory inlet covering exceeds the ambient air pressure outside the respirator.
Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) means an air-purifying respirator that uses a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements to the inlet covering.
Pressure demand respirator means a positive pressure atmosphere-supplying respirator that admits breathing air to the facepiece when the positive pressure is reduced inside the facepiece by inhalation.
Qualitative fit test (QLFT) means a pass/fail fit test to assess the adequacy of respirator fit that relies on the individual’s response to the test agent.
Quantitative fit test (QNFT) means an assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.
Respiratory inlet covering means that portion of a respirator that forms the protective barrier between the user’s respiratory tract and an air-purifying device or breathing air source, or both. It may be a facepiece, helmet, hood, suit, or a mouthpiece respirator with nose clamp.
Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) means an atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the breathing air source is designed to be carried by the user.
Service life means the period of time that a respirator, filter or sorbent, or other respiratory equipment provides adequate protection to the wearer.
Supplied-air respirator (SAR) or airline respirator means an atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the source of breathing air is not designed to be carried by the user.
This section means this respiratory protection standard.
Tight-fitting facepiece means a respiratory inlet covering that forms a complete seal with the face.
User seal check means an action conducted by the respirator user to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face.
Respiratory protection program. This paragraph requires the employer to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures and elements for required respirator use. The program must be administered by a suitably trained program administrator. In addition, certain program elements may be required for voluntary use to prevent potential hazards associated with the use of the respirator. The Small Entity Compliance Guide contains criteria for the selection of a program administrator and a sample program that meets the requirements of this paragraph. Copies of the Small Entity Compliance Guide will be available on or about April 8, 1998 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Office of Publications, Room N 3101, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20210 (202-219-4667).
In any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer, the employer shall establish and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures. The program shall be updated as necessary to reflect those changes in workplace conditions that affect respirator use. The employer shall include in the program the following provisions of this section, as applicable:
Procedures for selecting respirators for use in the workplace;
Medical evaluations of employees required to use respirators;
Fit testing procedures for tight-fitting respirators;
Procedures for proper use of respirators in routine and reasonably foreseeable emergency situations;
Procedures and schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, discarding, and otherwise maintaining respirators;
Procedures to ensure adequate air quality, quantity, and flow of breathing air for atmosphere-supplying respirators;
Training of employees in the respiratory hazards to which they are potentially exposed during routine and emergency situations;
Training of employees in the proper use of respirators, including putting on and removing them, any limitations on their use, and their maintenance; and
Procedures for regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the program.
Where respirator use is not required:
An employer may provide respirators at the request of employees or permit employees to use their own respirators, if the employer determines that such respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. If the employer determines that any voluntary respirator use is permissible, the employer shall provide the respirator users with the information contained in appendix D to this section (“Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard”); and
In addition, the employer must establish and implement those elements of a written respiratory protection program necessary to ensure that any employee using a respirator voluntarily is medically able to use that respirator, and that the respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to the user. Exception: Employers are not required to include in a written respiratory protection program those employees whose only use of respirators involves the voluntary use of filtering facepieces (dust masks).
The employer shall designate a program administrator who is qualified by appropriate training or experience that is commensurate with the complexity of the program to administer or oversee the respiratory protection program and conduct the required evaluations of program effectiveness.
The employer shall provide respirators, training, and medical evaluations at no cost to the employee.
Selection of respirators. This paragraph requires the employer to evaluate respiratory hazard(s) in the workplace, identify relevant workplace and user factors, and base respirator selection on these factors. The paragraph also specifies appropriately protective respirators for use in IDLH atmospheres, and limits the selection and use of air-purifying respirators.
The employer shall select and provide an appropriate respirator based on the respiratory hazard(s) to which the worker is exposed and workplace and user factors that affect respirator performance and reliability.
The employer shall select a NIOSH-certified respirator. The respirator shall be used in compliance with the conditions of its certification.
The employer shall identify and evaluate the respiratory hazard(s) in the workplace; this evaluation shall include a reasonable estimate of employee exposures to respiratory hazard(s) and an identification of the contaminant’s chemical state and physical form. Where the employer cannot identify or reasonably estimate the employee exposure, the employer shall consider the atmosphere to be IDLH.
The employer shall select respirators from a sufficient number of respirator models and sizes so that the respirator is acceptable to, and correctly fits, the user.
Respirators for IDLH atmospheres.
The employer shall provide the following respirators for employee use in IDLH atmospheres:
A full facepiece pressure demand SCBA certified by NIOSH for a minimum service life of thirty minutes, or
A combination full facepiece pressure demand supplied-air respirator (SAR) with auxiliary self-contained air supply.
Respirators provided only for escape from IDLH atmospheres shall be NIOSH-certified for escape from the atmosphere in which they will be used.
All oxygen-deficient atmospheres shall be considered IDLH. Exception: If the employer demonstrates that, under all foreseeable conditions, the oxygen concentration can be maintained within the ranges specified in Table II of this section (i.e., for the altitudes set out in the table), then any atmosphere-supplying respirator may be used.
Respirators for atmospheres that are not IDLH.
The employer shall provide a respirator that is adequate to protect the health of the employee and ensure compliance with all other OSHA statutory and regulatory requirements, under routine and reasonably foreseeable emergency situations.
Assigned Protection Factors (APFs). Employers must use the assigned protection factors listed in Table 1 to select a respirator that meets or exceeds the required level of employee protection. When using a combination respirator (e.g., airline respirators with an air-purifying filter), employers must ensure that the assigned protection factor is appropriate to the mode of operation in which the respirator is being used.
|Type of respirator1 2||Quarter mask||Half mask||Full facepiece||Helmet/hood||Loose-fitting facepiece|
|1. Air-Purifying Respirator||5||3 10||50|
|2. Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR)||50||1,000||4 25/1,000||25|
|3. Supplied-Air Respirator (SAR) or Airline Respirator|
• Demand mode
• Continuous flow mode
• Pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode
|4. Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)|
• Demand mode
• Pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode (e.g., open/closed circuit)
1Employers may select respirators assigned for use in higher workplace concentrations of a hazardous substance for use at lower concentrations of that substance, or when required respirator use is independent of concentration.
2The assigned protection factors in Table 1 are only effective when the employer implements a continuing, effective respirator program as required by this section (29 CFR 1910.134), including training, fit testing, maintenance, and use requirements.
3This APF category includes filtering facepieces, and half masks with elastomeric facepieces.
4The employer must have evidence provided by the respirator manufacturer that testing of these respirators demonstrates performance at a level of protection of 1,000 or greater to receive an APF of 1,000. This level of performance can best be demonstrated by performing a WPF or SWPF study or equivalent testing. Absent such testing, all other PAPRs and SARs with helmets/hoods are to be treated as loose-fitting facepiece respirators, and receive an APF of 25.
5These APFs do not apply to respirators used solely for escape. For escape respirators used in association with specific substances covered by 29 CFR 1910 subpart Z, employers must refer to the appropriate substance-specific standards in that subpart. Escape respirators for other IDLH atmospheres are specified by 29 CFR 1910.134 (d)(2)(ii).
Maximum Use Concentration (MUC).
The employer must select a respirator for employee use that maintains the employee’s exposure to the hazardous substance, when measured outside the respirator, at or below the MUC.
Employers must not apply MUCs to conditions that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH); instead, they must use respirators listed for IDLH conditions in paragraph (d)(2) of this standard.
When the calculated MUC exceeds the IDLH level for a hazardous substance, or the performance limits of the cartridge or canister, then employers must set the maximum MUC at that lower limit.
The respirator selected shall be appropriate for the chemical state and physical form of the contaminant.
For protection against gases and vapors, the employer shall provide:
An atmosphere-supplying respirator, or
An air-purifying respirator, provided that:
The respirator is equipped with an end-of-service-life indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the contaminant; or
If there is no ESLI appropriate for conditions in the employer’s workplace, the employer implements a change schedule for canisters and cartridges that is based on objective information or data that will ensure that canisters and cartridges are changed before the end of their service life. The employer shall describe in the respirator program the information and data relied upon and the basis for the canister and cartridge change schedule and the basis for reliance on the data.
For protection against particulates, the employer shall provide:
An atmosphere-supplying respirator; or
An air-purifying respirator equipped with a filter certified by NIOSH under 30 CFR part 11 as a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, or an air-purifying respirator equipped with a filter certified for particulates by NIOSH under 42 CFR part 84; or
For contaminants consisting primarily of particles with mass median aerodynamic diameters (MMAD) of at least 2 micrometers, an air-purifying respirator equipped with any filter certified for particulates by NIOSH.
TABLE I. – ASSIGNED PROTECTION FACTORS [RESERVED]
|Altitude (ft.)||Oxygen deficient Atmospheres (% 02) for which the employer may rely on atmosphere-supplying respirators|
|Less than 3,001||16.0-19.5|
1Above 8,000 feet the exception does not apply. Oxygen-enriched breathing air must be supplied above 14,000 feet.
Medical evaluation. Using a respirator may place a physiological burden on employees that varies with the type of respirator worn, the job and workplace conditions in which the respirator is used, and the medical status of the employee. Accordingly, this paragraph specifies the minimum requirements for medical evaluation that employers must implement to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator.
General. The employer shall provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator, before the employee is fit tested or required to use the respirator in the workplace. The employer may discontinue an employee’s medical evaluations when the employee is no longer required to use a respirator.
Medical evaluation procedures.
The employer shall identify a physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) to perform medical evaluations using a medical questionnaire or an initial medical examination that obtains the same information as the medical questionnaire.
The medical evaluation shall obtain the information requested by the questionnaire in Sections 1 and 2, part A of appendix C of this section.
Follow-up medical examination.
The employer shall ensure that a follow-up medical examination is provided for an employee who gives a positive response to any question among questions 1 through 8 in Section 2, part A of appendix C or whose initial medical examination demonstrates the need for a follow-up medical examination.
The follow-up medical examination shall include any medical tests, consultations, or diagnostic procedures that the PLHCP deems necessary to make a final determination.
Administration of the medical questionnaire and examinations.
The medical questionnaire and examinations shall be administered confidentially during the employee’s normal working hours or at a time and place convenient to the employee. The medical questionnaire shall be administered in a manner that ensures that the employee understands its content.
The employer shall provide the employee with an opportunity to discuss the questionnaire and examination results with the PLHCP.
Supplemental information for the PLHCP.
The following information must be provided to the PLHCP before the PLHCP makes a recommendation concerning an employee’s ability to use a respirator:
(A) The type and weight of the respirator to be used by the employee;
The duration and frequency of respirator use (including use for rescue and escape);
The expected physical work effort;
Additional protective clothing and equipment to be worn; and
Temperature and humidity extremes that may be encountered.
Any supplemental information provided previously to the PLHCP regarding an employee need not be provided for a subsequent medical evaluation if the information and the PLHCP remain the same.
The employer shall provide the PLHCP with a copy of the written respiratory protection program and a copy of this section.
Note to paragraph (e)(5)(iii): When the employer replaces a PLHCP, the employer must ensure that the new PLHCP obtains this information, either by providing the documents directly to the PLHCP or having the documents transferred from the former PLHCP to the new PLHCP. However, OSHA does not expect employers to have employees medically reevaluated solely because a new PLHCP has been selected.
Medical determination. In determining the employee’s ability to use a respirator, the employer shall:
Obtain a written recommendation regarding the employee’s ability to use the respirator from the PLHCP. The recommendation 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; and
A statement that the PLHCP has provided the employee with a copy of the PLHCP’s written recommendation.
If the respirator is a negative pressure respirator and the PLHCP finds a medical condition that may place the employee’s health at increased risk if the respirator is used, the employer shall provide a PAPR if the PLHCP’s medical evaluation finds that the employee can use such a respirator; if a subsequent medical evaluation finds that the employee is medically able to use a negative pressure respirator, then the employer is no longer required to provide a PAPR.
Additional medical evaluations. At a minimum, the employer shall provide additional medical evaluations that comply with the requirements of this section if:
An employee reports medical signs or symptoms that are related to ability to use a respirator;
A PLHCP, supervisor, or the 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, temperature) that may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on an employee.
Fit testing. This paragraph requires that, before an employee may be required to use any respirator with a negative or positive pressure tight-fitting facepiece, the employee must be fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used. This paragraph specifies the kinds of fit tests allowed, the procedures for conducting them, and how the results of the fit tests must be used.
The employer shall ensure that employees using a tight-fitting facepiece respirator pass an appropriate qualitative fit test (QLFT) or quantitative fit test (QNFT) as stated in this paragraph.
The fit test shall be administered using an OSHA-accepted QLFT or QNFT protocol. The OSHA-accepted QLFT and QNFT protocols and procedures are contained in appendix A of this section.
For all tight-fitting respirators, the employer shall ensure that employees perform a user seal check each time they put on the respirator using the procedures in appendix B-1 or procedures recommended by the respirator manufacturer that the employer demonstrates are as effective as those in appendix B-1 of this section.
Note 1 to paragraph (g): One of the two individuals located outside the IDLH atmosphere may be assigned to an additional role, such as incident commander in charge of the emergency or safety officer, so long as this individual is able to perform assistance or rescue activities without jeopardizing the safety or health of any firefighter working at the incident.
Note 2 to paragraph (g): Nothing in this section is meant to preclude firefighters from performing emergency rescue activities before an entire team has assembled.
Cleaning and disinfecting. The employer shall provide each respirator user with a respirator that is clean, sanitary, and in good working order. The employer shall ensure that respirators are cleaned and disinfected using the procedures in appendix B-2 of this section, or procedures recommended by the respirator manufacturer, provided that such procedures are of equivalent effectiveness. The respirators shall be cleaned and disinfected at the following intervals:
The moisture content in the cylinder does not exceed a dew point of −50 °F (−45.6 °C) at 1 atmosphere pressure.
Minimize moisture content so that the dew point at 1 atmosphere pressure is 10 degrees F (5.56 °C) below the ambient temperature;
Training and information. This paragraph requires the employer to provide effective training to employees who are required to use respirators. The training must be comprehensive, understandable, and recur annually, and more often if necessary. This paragraph also requires the employer to provide the basic information on respirators in appendix D of this section to employees who wear respirators when not required by this section or by the employer to do so.
The basic advisory information on respirators, as presented in appendix D of this section, shall be provided by the employer in any written or oral format, to employees who wear respirators when such use is not required by this section or by the employer.
Appendices. Compliance with appendix A, appendix B-1, appendix B-2, appendix C, and appendix D to this section are mandatory.