19.1  Introduction

The following sections provide respiratory protection guidelines and procedures. This chapter covers the following topics:

19.2  Program Overview

This program defines UTIA procedures regarding the use of respirators for personal protection against airborne contaminants. It applies to UTIA employees and to people working for UT as volunteers. The ability of a respirator to provide adequate protection is based on proper selection, fit and training. Respirators which are intended for protection against harmful dusts, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, or vapors must not be obtained or worn by employees without approval from the UTIA Safety Office and in accordance with this program.

This program has been established to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Respiratory Protection Standard, §29CFR1910.134 . The program shall be updated as necessary to reflect changes in workplace conditions that affect respirator use.

Off campus locations may modify this procedure to fit their operations after consultation with the UTIA Safety Office. This may be particularly appropriate for the Research and Education Centers using respiratory protection for pesticide applications, because the OSHA §29CFR1910.134 Respiratory Protection standard does not directly apply to agricultural operations. The requirements of the EPA Worker Protection Standard (§40CFR170) and the OSHA Safety and Health Standards for Agriculture (§29CFR1928) are not reflected in this document. For questions related to these regulations contact the UTIA Safety Office.

This program covers use of air-purifying respirators including: N95 filtering facepiece, cartridge, canister, quarter-mask, half-mask, full-faced, and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). This program does not cover supplied air respirators such as self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), air-line respirators, or emergency and escape respirators. For specific requirements regarding these respirators, consult the UTIA Safety Office.

WARNING: Air-purifying respirators do not provide protection in oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5% oxygen). If you are unsure if a space or location contains adequate oxygen, the oxygen concentration must be tested prior to anyone entering the space.

19.3  Selection of Respirators

Respirator usage has significant limitations. The limitations include difficulty understanding and correctly following usage requirements, poor storage resulting in contaminants on the inside of the facepiece, that the respirator is hot and uncomfortable to wear, that it places a physiological burden on the employee, and that it interferes with visibility. Therefore, other control options (such as product substitution, using wet methods to prevent airborne contaminants, or local exhaust ventilation) are the preferred approach to avoid exposure to harmful air contaminants whenever feasible.

When other control options are not feasible or they have failed to adequately control the airborne hazard, a respirator shall be used by each exposed employee. The proper selection of the respirator and cartridge is critical. If the filter type is not appropriate for the hazard, it will not protect from harmful air contaminants. The useful life of each respirator or cartridge will vary depending on the job duties and actual time in use. To select which respirator is best suited for your operation, contact the UTIA Safety Office.

Only respirators approved by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) will be used. Respirators may not be altered and parts (including filters) are not interchangeable between products from different manufacturers.

For many UTIA applications the use of a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) is recommended. A PAPR with a hooded or loose-fitting facepiece places minimal restriction on breathing and provides a higher level of protection. Also, a PAPR with a loose-fitting facepiece doesn't require fit-testing, and is acceptable for employees with beards or glasses.

19.4  Special Provisions for Voluntary Use of N95 Respirators

An N95 filtering facepiece respirator looks similar to a dust mask, but it is made of better filter media and has been tested by NIOSH to provide much better protection against particulate hazards. An N95 respirator will have two straps for a better fit, and the box will have the words “N95” and “NIOSH” on it.

N95 filtering facepiece respirator examples:

Dust masks that are NOT N95 respirators:

Because these N95 respirators place less physiological burden on the employee than traditional cartridge respirators, no medical approval or fit-testing is required if the usage is voluntary and if you meet the requirements below. However, all voluntary respirator users must read the mandatory OSHA guidance in section 19.13, "Instructions for Voluntary Filtering Facepiece Respirator Use." This section should be posted next to the storage location for N95 respirators. The following conditions must exist in order for N95 respirators to be used voluntarily:

•  Exposure to airborne contaminants is below OSHA permissible exposure limits.
•  Exposure is only to non-toxic nuisance materials (plant dust, agar dust).
•  There is no exposure to airborne infectious disease agents.
•  The N95 respirator is not worn to reduce exposure to gases or vapors.

19.5 Program Requirements Summary

UTIA has three primary classes of respirator users, with the requirements for each summarized in the following table. These requirements are described in detail in the following sections.

19.6 Responsibilities

19.6.1  UTIA Safety Office Responsibilities

  1. Serve as the overall program administrator for the UTIA Respiratory Protection Program.
  2. Develop a written control plan and perform a periodic review to determine if revisions are necessary.
  3. Provide guidance and technical assistance to departments in the design and selection of appropriate engineering and administrative controls which will reduce the need for the use of respirators.
  4. Conduct exposure assessments of workplaces to determine the need for respiratory protection.
  5. Recommend appropriate respiratory protective equipment and cartridge change schedules.
  6. Conduct fit tests for respirator wearers.
  7. Provide training on the proper use, care, and storage of respirators. Maintain training records

19.6.2 Supervisors of Employees Wearing Respirators Responsibilities

  1. Coordinate with Safety Officer on appropriate respiratory protection for employees with airborne exposures.
  2. Purchase NIOSH approved respirators.
  3. Initiate medical evaluation process for employees who use respirators (obtain OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire from Safety Officer).
  4. Arrange for annual fit testing through UTIA Safety Office. NOTE: loose-fitting PAPR users and voluntary use of N95 are exempt from this requirement.
  5. Maintain adequate stock of appropriate respirators, cartridges and spare parts.
  6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the respiratory protection program to ensure that:

19.6.3  Employee Responsibilities

  1. Participate in training programs on respiratory protection.
  2. Read and follow the manufacturer's information on proper use, cleaning and storage of the respirator.
  3. Report to the University administration, through their immediate supervisor, any problems that are observed which could compromise health and safety.
  4. Keep the respirator stored in a protective covering when it is not in use (such as a closed ziploc bag). Do not leave your respirator sitting out where dust and contaminants accumulate on the facepiece, as these contaminants can interfere with proper faceseal, deteriorate the material, clog the filters, impair visibility, and increase user exposure when the respirator is used the next time.

19.7 Medical Evaluation

Respirators place an extra burden on the user because they make it more difficult to breathe, they are hot, and they interfere with normal body movement. Every employee that is required to wear a respirator on the job shall have respirator training and a medical evaluation prior to initial use. Medical approval to wear respiratory protection is the first step in this process. Contact the UTIA Safety Office to obtain a medical questionnaire form. The employee completes the questionnaire and returns it directly to the Occupational Health Nurse (OHN), Mrs. Amy Knowles (336 Ellington Plant Sciences Bldg, 2431 Joe Johnson Dr., Knoxville, TN 37996-4564), where it will be reviewed. Employees who indicate potential medical problems on the medical questionnaire will be referred to a physician for medical evaluation. If an employee has questions related to the questionnaire, the OHN will be available to answer them. After review, the UTIA Safety Office is notified in writing of the employee's physical ability to wear a respirator. Off campus sites can use this process, or other avenues of medical review that are equivalent. There is no charge for the OSHA Medical Questionnaire review, however if additional medical follow-up is required the department is responsible for those expenses.

After the initial medical approval to wear a respirator, it is important to realize that a person's ability to safely wear a respirator can change. Periodic medical re-evaluation is necessary in any of the following circumstances:

19.8 Training of Employees

Each respirator user will be trained on how to use, check, and maintain respirators. This training will be provided by the UTIA Safety Office or by a training program that is approved by the UTIA Safety Office. The training of each respirator wearer will include the following:

  1. The nature, extent, and effects of respiratory hazards to which the person may be exposed.
  2. Reasons for selecting a particular type of respirator.
  3. Procedures and schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, discarding, and otherwise maintaining respirators
  4. An explanation of the operation, capabilities and limitations of the respirator selected.
  5. Training in the proper use of respirators, including putting on and removing them, any limitations on their use, and their maintenance.
  6. Instructions as needed for special respirator use.
  7. Regulations concerning respirator use.
A record will be kept of those employees who have been trained. Each user must understand and be able to apply the contents of this respirator program in the daily use, care, and safekeeping of the respirators.

19.9 Respirator Fit Testing

Proper fitting of respirators is essential for employees to receive the protection for which the respirator is designed. Air that passes around the edge of the respirator, rather than through the filter media, is not filtered air. Fit testing will be conducted by the UTIA Safety Office (or other organization with UTIA Safety Office approval), for each employee wearing a tight-fitting type of respirator. The fit-test must be conducted prior to initial use of the respirator, whenever a different respirator facepiece (size, style, model or make) is used, and at least annually thereafter.

Tight-fitting respirators should not be worn if scars, hollow temples, excessively protruding cheekbones, deep creases in facial skin, the absence of teeth or dentures, or unusual facial configurations prevent a good face seal.

19.10 Maintenance of Respirators

One of the best indicators of a successful respiratory protection program is the proper care, maintenance and storage of respirators. Respirators shall be cleaned and disinfected as necessary. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding cleaning and disinfection. Respirators shall be inspected by the employee before each use for damaged or missing parts. Parts, including cartridges, are not interchangeable between respirators from different manufacturers.

•  Each respirator shall be stored in a plastic bag.
•  Respirators shall not be stored in areas where they will be subject to high heat, chemicals, physical damage, extreme cold or theft.

19.11 Program Evaluation

Periodic evaluation of the effectiveness of the respirator program is essential to ensure that persons are being provided with adequate respiratory protection. The effectiveness of the respirator program should be evaluated at least annually by supervisors and the UTIA Safety Officer. Corrective action should be taken to correct defects found in the program. Supervisors will monitor the effectiveness of this program by:

19.12 References

OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (§29 CFR 1910.134)
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Agricultural (§29 CFR 1928)
EPA Worker Protection Standard (§30 CFR 170)
Industrial Respiratory Protection (NIOSH Publication)
Respirator Decision Logic (NIOSH Publication)

Review Date – July, 2006

19.13 OSHA Handout - Instructions for Voluntary Use of Filtering Facepiece Respirators

Excerpted from OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 Appendix D, 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. If your employer provides respirators for your voluntary use, or if you provide your own respirator, you need to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard.

You should do the following:

1. Read and heed all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care, and warnings regarding the respirators limitations.

2. Choose respirators certified for use to protect against the contaminant of concern. NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, certifies respirators. A label or statement of certification should appear on the respirator or respirator packaging. It will tell you what the respirator is designed for and how much it will protect you.

3. Do not wear your respirator into atmospheres containing contaminants for which your respirator is not designed to protect against. For example, a respirator designed to filter dust particles will not protect you against gases, vapors, or very small solid particles of fumes or smoke.

4. Keep track of your respirator so that you do not mistakenly use someone else's respirator.

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