35.51 - Respirator Protection and Use

Last updated August 18, 2005

A. General. Engineering controls and modified work practices are the preferred methods of reducing occupational exposure to airborne contaminants. When exposures cannot be lowered to an acceptable level by these means, respiratory protection will be required. A respirator protection program sets guidelines for respirator selection and use, medical surveillance, and physician’s approval. All respirator use by employees and students must be coordinated through the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO).

B. Process. Upon a request by an employee or student with concerns about exposure to air contaminants, or when determined by EHSO personnel to be necessary, EHSO personnel may conduct a work site assessment and/or air monitoring to determine if use of a respirator is appropriate, determine the type of respirator necessary and if medical surveillance is required, and provide respirator training and fit testing.

C. Procedures.

C-1. Work Site Assessment.

i) An employee or student who believes he or she is, or may be, exposed to hazardous materials in the work place, should contact the EHSO at (208) 885­6524. EHSO personnel can assess the work site, select and conduct appropriate air monitoring, and make recommendations for reducing exposures, if necessary.

ii) The employee or student should ensure material safety data sheets (MSDSs) are available and reviewed for all hazardous materials used in the work area.

C-2. Engineering Controls/Modified Work Practices. If the air contaminants are found to exceed safe levels, EHSO personnel will recommend appropriate engineering controls and/or modified work practices to reduce exposure. If exposure cannot be lowered through these methods, the use of a respirator will be recommended.

C-3. Respirator Selection. EHSO personnel will base respirator selection upon the type of air contaminant, expected air concentrations and working conditions. Employees and students may choose to wear a respirator with a higher protection factor than recommended but may not use one with a lower protection factor. All respirator use will be in compliance with the “University of Idaho Respiratory Protection Program: Compliance Guide”.

i) Use of a respirator requires a good seal between the face and the respirator. This usually precludes beards, long sideburns, and other facial hair that may interfere with the seal of the respirator.

ii) The cost of the respirator is the responsibility of the department and must be supplied without any cost to the employee. Respirators may be obtained through Facilities Maintenance and Operations (FMO) Shop Stores or through any safety supply company.

C-4. Medical Surveillance. Since respirators place additional stress on the cardiac and pulmonary systems, physician’s approval is required before an employee or student may use a respirator.

i) Request a medical surveillance packet from the EHSO at (208) 885-6524.

ii) Complete the questionnaire in the medical surveillance packet.

iii) Coordinate medical evaluation with a licensed health care professional through the EHSO, (208) 885-6524.

iv) After all medical tests are complete, the physician will meet with the employee or student and discuss the physician’s recommendation. A copy of the physician’s approval must be forwarded to the EHSO.

v) For those individuals using a respirator while on the job, the medical surveillance is required annually. EHSO personnel will send a medical surveillance packet to the employee when the annual physical is due.

vi) The cost of medical surveillance is the responsibility of the department and must be supplied at no cost to the employee or student.

C-5. Respirator Training. Environmental Health and Safety Office personnel will provide initial and annual training in the proper use and care of the respirator.

C-6. Respirator Fit Testing. Respirator fit tests are required for all employees and students prior to using respirators in their work requirements.

i) Contact the EHSO to arrange a time to conduct the fit test. Fit tests are conducted in the Environmental Health and Safety Office.

ii) The quality of the respirator fit is determined using qualitative and quantitative methods. If the employee or student cannot get an acceptable fit, other brands and sizes of respirators will be tried.

iii) Fit tests must be repeated annually or when there is a significant change in face structure, whichever comes first. EHSO personnel will notify the employee or student when the annual fit test is due.

D. Information. For additional information, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at (208) 885-6524.