Respiratory Protection Program
This respirator program lays out standard operating procedures to ensure the protection
of all employees from respiratory hazards through proper selection and use of respirators.
Respirators are to be used only where engineering control of respirator hazard is
not feasible while engineering controls are being installed, or in emergencies. This
program is in accordance with the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134.
At the Community College of Rhode Island the Respiratory Protection Program Administrators
is Kenneth McCabe, Physical Plant Director (tel. 401-825-2111). He is responsible
for the program and have authority to make necessary decisions to ensure success of
this program. Their authority includes purchasing equipment necessary to implement
and operate the program. The Program Administrators will develop written detailed
instructions covering each of the basic elements in this program, and is authorized
to amend these instructions.
They are also qualified by appropriate training and experience to administer or oversee
the Respiratory Protection Program and conduct the required evaluations of program
Copies of this respiratory Protection Program are distributed at the time of training.
Any employee may review the Program. Copies are located in the College Libraries,
in the offices of the Physical Plant Directors of the Knight and Flanagan Campuses
and in the offices of the Chemical Safety Coordinator and Physical Plant director.
The Physical Plant Directors and the Chemical Safety Coordinator review this program
periodically to ensure its effectiveness.
Respirators are selected on the basis of respiratory hazards to which the worker is
exposed and workplace and user factors that affect respirator performance and reliability.
All selections are made by the Program Administrator or one of the Physical Plant
The Program Administrator has developed detailed written standard operating procedures
governing the selection of respirators using the following guidelines based on 29
Selection Procedure Checklist
- Respirators are selected and provided based on respiratory hazard(s) to which a worker
is exposed and workplace and user factors that affect respirator performance and reliability.
- Only NIOSH-certified respirators are selected.
- Respiratory hazard(s) in the workplace must be identified and evaluated, including
a reasonable estimate of employee exposures to respiratory hazard(s) and an identification
of the contaminant's chemical state and physical form.
- An atmosphere is considered to be IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health)
if the employee exposure cannot be identified or reasonably estimated. No College
employee is allowed to enter an IDLH area.
- Respirators are selected from a sufficient number of respirator models and sizes so
that the respirator is acceptable to, and correctly fits, the user.
- All oxygen-deficient atmospheres are considered to be IDLH and may not be entered
by any employee.
- When selecting respirators for atmospheres that are not IDLH a respirator that is
adequate to protect the health of the employee must be supplied to ensure compliance
with all other OSHA statutory and regulatory requirements, under routine and reasonably
foreseeable emergency situations.
- Respirators are selected for the appropriate chemical state and physical form of the
- For protection against gases and vapors, an air-purifying respirator must be provided
- is equipped with an end-of-service-life indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the
- If there is no ESLI appropriate for conditions in the workplace, a change schedule
for canisters and cartridges must be implemented that is based on objective information
or data that will ensure that canisters and cartridges are changed before the end
of the service life.
- For protection against particulates, there must be provided 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 particulate by NIOSH under 42 CFR 84.
A medical evaluation to determine whether an employee is able to use a given respirator
is an important element of an effective Respiratory Protection Program and is necessary
to prevent injuries, illnesses, and even, in rare cases, death from the physiological
burden imposed by respirator use.
At the Community College of Rhode Island, persons will not be assigned to tasks requiring
use of respirators nor fit tested unless it has been determined that they are physically
able to perform the work and use the respirator.
A medical evaluation will be performed by Occupational Health + Rehabilitation located
in Pawtucket, RI and Warwick, RI or by another agency or physician chosen by the College.
All medical questionnaires and examinations are confidential and handled during the
employee's normal working hours or at a time and place convenient to the employee.
A medical questionnaire is administered so that the employee understands its content.
Before any initial examination or questionnaire is given, the College will supply
the PLHCP with the following information so that he/she can make the best recommendation
concerning an employee's ability to use a respirator:
- Type of the respirator to be used by the employee
- Duration and frequency of respirator use
- Expected physical work effort
- Additional protective clothing and equipment to be worn
- Temperature and humidity extremes that may be encountered.
Once the PLHCP determines whether the employee has the ability to use or not use a
respirator, he/she sends the Community College of Rhode Island a written recommendation
containing only the following information:
- 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 PLHCP has provided the employee with a copy of the PLHCP's written
Follow-up Medical Examination:
A follow-up medical examination will be provided if an employee's initial medical
examination demonstrates the need for a follow-up medical examination. The follow-up
medical examination includes tests, consultations, or diagnostic procedures that the
PLHCP deems necessary to make a final determination.
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 College will not allow the employee to work in an environment where a
respirator is needed.
Additional Medical Examinations:
The College provides additional medical evaluations if:
- An employee reports medical signs or symptoms that are related to ability to use a
- 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
- 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 Procedures
Respirators must fit properly to provide protection. If a tight seal is not maintained
between the face piece and the employee's face, contaminated air will be drawn into
the face piece and be breathed by the employee. Fit testing seeks to protect the employee
against breathing contaminated ambient air and is one of the core provisions of the
Qualitative fit testing will be administered by the PLHPC who carries out the medical
evaluation. Qualitative fit testing (QLFT) involves the introduction of a gas, vapor,
or aerosol test agent into an area around the head of the respirator user. If that
user can detect the presence of the test agent through subjective means, such as odor,
taste, or irritation, the respirator fit is inadequate.
The Community College of Rhode Island makes sure those employees are fit tested at
the following times with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that
will be used:
- Before any of the employees are required to use any respirator with a negative or
positive pressure tight-fitting face piece
- Whenever a different respirator face piece (size, style, model, or make) is used
- At least annually
- Whenever the employee reports, or the College, PLHCP, supervisor, or Program Administrator
makes visual observations of changes in the employee's physical condition that could
affect respirator fit. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, facial scarring,
dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight; and
- When the employee, subsequently after passing a QLFT, notifies the College, Program
Administrator, supervisor, or PLHCP that the fit of the respirator is unacceptable.
That employee will be retested with a different respirator face piece.
Proper Use Procedures
Once the respirator has been properly selected and fitted, its protection efficiency
must be maintained by proper use in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.134(g). The College
ensures with written procedures that respirators are used properly in the workplace.
The proper respirator use procedures based on OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134(g) are listed below:
- Respirators with tight-fitting face pieces may not be worn by employees who have facial
hair that comes between the sealing surface of the face piece and the face or that
interferes with valve function; or any condition that interferes with the face-to
- If an employee wears corrective glasses or goggles or other personal protective equipment,
such equipment must be worn in a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the
face piece to the face of the user.
- For all tight-fitting respirators, employees must perform a user seal check each time
they put on the respirator using the procedures in 29 CFR 1910.134 Appendix B-1 (User
Seal Check Procedures)
- Appropriate surveillance must be maintained of work area conditions and degree of
employee exposure or stress. When there is a change in work area conditions or degree
of employee exposure or stress that may affect the continued respirator effectiveness.
- Employees must leave the respirator use area: to wash their faces and respirator face
pieces as necessary to prevent eye or skin irritation associated with respirator use;
or if they detect vapor or gas breakthrough, changes in breathing resistance, or leakage
of the face piece; or to replace the respirator or the filter, cartridge, or canister
- If the employee detects vapor or gas breakthrough, changes in breathing resistance,
or leakage of the face piece, the respirator must be replaced or repaired before the
employee can return to the work area. The College uses the following checklist to
ensure that proper use procedures include coverage of OSHA requirements:
Continuing Respirator Effectiveness
Appropriate surveillance must be maintained of work area conditions and degree of
employee exposure or stress. When there is a change in work area conditions or degree
of employee exposure or stress that may affect respirator effectiveness the continued
effectiveness of the respirator will be reevaluated.
Maintenance and Care Procedures
In order to ensure continuing protection from respiratory protective devices, it is
necessary to establish and implement proper maintenance and care procedures and schedules.
A lax attitude toward maintenance and care will negate successful selection and fit
because the devices will not deliver the assumed protection unless they are kept in
good working order.
Cleaning & Disinfecting
The College provides each respirator user with a respirator that is clean, sanitary,
and in good working order. The College ensures that respirators are cleaned and disinfected
using the procedures in Appendix B-2 of 29 CFR 1910.134 or those recommended by the
respirator manufacturer. See those procedures below which are of equivalent effectiveness
as Appendix B-2 of 29 CFR 1910.134.
The respirators are cleaned and disinfected at the following intervals:
||Are cleaned and disinfected at the following interval:
|Issued for the exclusive use of an employee
||As often as necessary to be maintained in a sanitary condition
|Issued to more than one employee
||Before being worn by different individuals
|Maintained for emergency use
||After each use
|Used in fit testing and training
||After each use
Storage of Respirators
Storage of respirators must be done properly to ensure that the equipment is protected
and not subject to environmental conditions that may cause deterioration. The College
ensures that respirators are stored to protect them from damage, contamination, dust,
sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals, and they
are packed or stored, in the offices of the Physical Plant Directors to prevent deformation
of the face piece and exhalation valve. In addition, emergency respirators are kept
accessible to the work area, stored in covers that are clearly marked as containing
emergency respirators, and stored in accordance with any applicable manufacturer instructions.
Inspection of Respirators
In order to assure continued reliability of respirator equipment, it must be inspected
on a regular basis. The frequency of inspection is related to the frequency of use.
The frequencies for inspection are:
||Inspected at the following frequencies:
|All types used in routine situations
||Before each use and during cleaning
|Maintained for use in emergency situations
||At least monthly and in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations, and checked
for proper function before and after each use
Any one of the respirator inspections includes a check of the following:
- For respirator function, tightness of connections, and the condition of the various
parts including, but not limited to, the face piece, head straps, valves, connecting
tube, and cartridges, canisters or filters; and
- Of electrometric parts for pliability and signs of deterioration.
Repairs to Respirators
Respirators that fail an inspection or are otherwise found to be defective are removed
from service, and are discarded or repaired or adjusted in accordance with the following
- Repairs or adjustments to respirators are to be made only by persons appropriately
trained to perform such operations and only with the respirator manufacturer's NIOSH-approved
parts designed for the respirator.
- Repairs must be made according to the manufacturer's recommendations and specifications
for the type and extent of repairs to be performed
Discarding of Respirators
Respirators that fail an inspection or are otherwise not fit for use and cannot be
repaired must be discarded at the discretion of the Physical Plant Directors or the
Chemical Safety Coordinator.
All filters, cartridges and canisters used in the workplace must be labeled and color-coded
with the NIOSH approval label. The label must remain in place and be legible.
Training in Respirator Use
The most thorough respiratory protection program will not be effective if employees
do not wear respirators, or if wearing them, do not do so properly. The only way to
ensure that the employees are aware of the purpose of wearing respirators, and how
they are to be worn is to train them. Employee training is an important part of the
respiratory protection program and is essential for correct respirator use.
The training program provided is two-fold; it covers both the:
- Respiratory hazards to which the employees are potentially exposed during routine
and emergency situations, and
- Proper use of respirators, including putting on and removing them, any limitations
on their use, and their maintenance.
Both training parts are provided prior to requiring an employee to use a respirator
in the workplace. However, if an employee has received training within 12 months addressing
the seven basic elements of respiratory protection (see "Seven basic elements" below)
and the Community College of Rhode Island and the employee can demonstrate that he/she
has knowledge of those elements, then that employee is not required to repeat such
The College does require all of the employees to be retrained annually and when the
following situations occur:
- Changes in the workplace or the type of respirator render previous training obsolete;
- Inadequacies in the employee's knowledge or use of the respirator indicate that the
employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill; or
- Any other situation arises in which retraining appears necessary to ensure safe respirator
Seven Basic Elements:
Employees are trained sufficiently to be able to demonstrate knowledge of at least
these seven elements: Employees will receive additional one-on-one training for each
type of hazard or each new chemical they are exposed to.
- Why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise
the protective effect of the respirator.
- The effects of respiratory hazards to which employees may be exposed.
- Identity of the chemicals involved, what exposure levels there would be if no respiratory
protection were being used, and what the potential health effects of such exposure
would be if the respirator is not worn or not worn properly.
- Inspection of the material safety data sheets for the hazardous chemicals that the
chemical manufacturers are required to produce under Hazard Communication 29 CFR 1910.1200.
- What the limitations and capabilities of the respirator.
- How the respirator provides protection by either filtering the air or absorbing the
- Limitations on the equipment such as prohibitions against using an air-purifying respirator
in the event of an emergency with Immediate Danger to Life and Health (IDLH) atmospheres,
and why air purifying respirators should never be used in such situations.
- How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations, including situations
in which the respirator malfunctions.
- Respirators do malfunction on occasion. If a malfunction occurs, the user must exit
the area immediately and not re-enter until the problem has been corrected or the
user has been fitted with a new properly working respirator.
- College employees are generally not trained nor are they expected to deal with emergency
situations involving toxic or irritating vapors. The Department of Security and Safety
and college Police and the Chemical Safety Coordinator must be notified at once of
any emergency situation. This procedure is outlined in the College's Emergency Response
- How to inspect, put on, remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator.
- The College is required to ensure that such inspections are performed but employees
using the equipment may frequently be responsible for inspecting the respirators assigned
to them. Demonstration of this process so employees are capable of recognizing any
problems that may threaten the continued protective capability of the respirator.
- Steps employees are to follow if they discover any problems during inspection, i.e.,
who this should be reported to and where they can obtain replacement equipment if
necessary. Everyday respirator fit must be as close as possible to the fit obtained
- Practice so employees can perform these tasks effectively. Positive and negative pressure
face piece seal checks and other tests may be used. Employees must be trained regarding
the appropriate tests to be used for the respirators they are wearing.
- Procedures for maintenance and storage of the respirator.
- Procedures to prevent damage, deformation or deterioration of the respirator during
- How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective
use of respirators.
- Knowledge of the medical problems that may preclude employees from using some types
of respirators or from wearing a respirator under certain workplace conditions to
assure that the employee receives the protection intended by 29 CFR 1910.134. Examples
include employees with histories of asthma, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, lung cancer,
and other conditions listed in 29 CFR 1910.134, Appendix C.
- Medical information sufficient for employees to recognize the signs or symptoms of
medical conditions (e.g., shortness of breath, dizziness) that may affect their use
- The general requirements of 29 CFR 1910.134.
- The employer's obligations under the standard with respect to employee protection.
The College is obligated to: Develop a written program; Select respirators properly;
Evaluate respirator use; Correct deficiencies in respirator use; Conduct medical evaluations;
Provide for the maintenance, storage, and cleaning of respirators: and retain and
provide access to specific records.
- The basic advisory information on respirators, as presented below is provided by the
Program Administrator to employees who wear respirators when such use is not required
by the regulations or by the College:
Information For Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under The Standard
Respirators are an effective method of protection against designated hazards when
properly selected and worn. Respirator use is encouraged, even when exposures are
below the exposure limit, to provide an additional level of comfort and protection
for workers. However, if a respirator is used improperly or not kept clean, the respirator
itself can become a hazard to the worker. sometimes, workers may wear respirators
to avoid exposures to hazards, even if the amount of hazardous substance does not
exceed the limits set by OSHA standards. After discussion with an employee, and at
the discretion of the Chemical Safety Coordinator, the College may provide a respirator
for voluntary use. However, certain precautions must be taken to ensure that the respirator
itself does not present a hazard.
- The employee must read and heed all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use,
maintenance, cleaning and care, and warnings regarding the respirators limitations.
- Respirators certified for use to protect against the contaminant of concern must be
chosen.. NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the US
Department of Health and Human Services, certifies respirators. A label or statement
of certification should appear on the respirator or respirator packaging. It tells
what the respirator is designed for and how much protection it gives.
- Respirator must not be worn in atmospheres containing contaminants for which the respirator
is not designed. For example, a respirator designed to filter dust particles will
not protect against gases, vapors, or very small solid particles of fumes or smoke.
Respirator Program Evaluation
It is inherent in respirator use that problems with protection, irritation, breathing
resistance, comfort, and other respirator-related factors occasionally arise in most
respirator protection programs. Although it is not possible to eliminate all problems
associated with respirator use, the College tries to eliminate as many problems as
possible to improve respiratory protection and encourage employee acceptance and safe
use of respirators. By having the Program Administrator and the Physical Plant Directors
thoroughly evaluate and, as necessary, revise the Respiratory Protection Program,
the College can eliminate problems effectively.
Program evaluation, performed semiannually by the program administrator, involves
- Conducting evaluations of the workplace as necessary to ensure that the provisions
of the current written program are being effectively implemented.
- Regularly consulting employees required to use respirators to assess their views on
program effectiveness and to identify any problems. Any problems that are identified
during this assessment must be corrected. Factors to assess include, but are not limited
to: Respirator fit (including the ability to use the respirator without interfering
with effective workplace performance); Appropriate respirator selection for the hazards
to which the employee is exposed; Proper respirator use under the workplace conditions
the employee encounters; and Proper respirator maintenance.
The following documents are helpful references:
- 29 CFR 1910.134, Respiratory Protection, and Appendices
- 42 CFR 84, Approval of Respiratory Protective Devices,
- ANSI Z88.2, Respiratory Protection,
- NIOSH Guide to Industrial Respiratory Protection-1987 (however, this may be out of
- NIOSH Guide to the Selection and Use of Particulate Respirators Certified Under 42