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OSHA RESPIRATORY PROTECTION PROGRAM 
How to Select a Respirator

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how to select a respirator osha 29 cfr 1910.134
Respirator Selection
Which respirator is right for you?
The Advisor Genius can help!
In order to select an appropriate respirator you must:
Conduct an exposure assessment to determine the type and amount of hazardous exposure
 
Take into account the factors that can influence respirator selection such as job-site and worker characteristics
 
Understand the assigned protection factors
 
Know the various kinds of respirators and their relevant characteristics
Try to  correct the source, rather than wear a respirator!
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Exposure Assessment

When? What? How Much?

Employers must characterize the nature and magnitude of employee exposures to
respiratory hazards before selecting respiratory protection equipment. Paragraph (d)(1)(iii) of the
final rule requires the employer to identify and evaluate the respiratory hazard(s) in the workplace.
Employers must make a "reasonable estimate" of the employee exposures anticipated to occur as a
result of those hazards, including those likely to be encountered in reasonably foreseeable
emergency situations, and must also identify the physical state and chemical form of such
contaminant(s). The final rule does not specify how the employer is to make reasonable estimates of
employee exposures for the purposes of selecting respirators.

When must an employer conduct an exposure assessment? When you expose your employees to a respiratory hazard and/or require them to wear respirators. Examples of when you should comsider assessments may include but are not limited to: bulletWhen OSHA has a substance specific standard (e.g., lead, methylene chloride). bulletWhen employees notice symptoms (e.g., irritation, odor) or complain of respiratory health effects. bulletWhen the workplace contains visible emissions (e.g., fumes, dust, aerosols).

What is the identity and nature of the airborne contaminant? Specific characteristics of the airborne hazard must be established in order to select an appropriate respirator. bulletIs the airborne contaminant a particulate (dust, fumes, mist, aerosol) or a gas/vapor? bulletIs the airborne contaminant a chemical and are material safety data sheets available? bulletIs the airborne contaminant a biological (bacteria, mold, spores, fungi, virus)? bulletAre there any mandatory or recommended occupational exposure levels for the contaminant?

How much employee exposure is there in the workplace? The final rule permits employers to use many approaches for estimating worker exposures to respiratory hazards. bulletSampling - Personal exposure monitoring is the "gold standard" for determining employee exposures because it is the most reliable approach for assessing how much and what type of respiratory protection is required in a given circumstance.
bulletSampling should utilize methods appropriate for contaminants(s). bulletSampling should present the worst case exposures; or bulletSampling should represent enough shifts and operations to determine the range of exposure 
 
bulletObjective Information - You may rely on information and data that indicate that use or handling of a product or material cannot, under worst-case conditions, release concentrations of a respiratory hazard above a level that would trigger the need for respirator use or require use of a more protective respirator.
bulletYou can use data on the physical and chemical properties of air contaminants, combined with information on room dimensions, air exchange rates, contaminant release rates, and other pertinent data, including exposure patterns and work practices, to estimate the maximum exposure that could be anticipated in the workplace. bulletData from industry-wide surveys by trade associations for use by their members, as well as from stewardship programs operated by manufacturers for their customers, are often useful in assisting employers, particularly small-business owners, to obtain information on employee exposures in their workplaces.
 
bulletVariation - You should account for potential variation in exposure by using exposure data collected with a strategy that recognizes exposure variability, or by using worst-case assumptions and estimation techniques to evaluate the highest foreseeable employee exposure levels. The use of safety factors may be necessary to account for uneven dispersion of the contaminant in the air and the proximity of the worker to the emission source horizontal rule

Factors That Can Influence Respirator Selection

The Physical Configuration of the Jobsite

Tightly constrained areas may not permit the use of self-contained breathing apparatuses even though they might be an acceptable choice otherwise. Likewise, working around obstructions or moving machinery that can snag hoses may limit the use of airline respirators.

 Worker Medical Condition

 Wearing respiratory protection poses a physical burden on the wearer. When a worker's medical condition would prohibit restrictive breathing conditions, negative pressure respirators would not be an appropriate choice.

 Worker Comfort

 Worker preferences should be a consideration during the respirator selection process. Among air purifying respirators, powered air purifying helmets have been subjectively rated the best for breathing ease, skin comfort, and in-mask temperature and humidity while filtering facepieces rated high for lightness and convenience. Each, however, has its own drawbacks, and all these factors should be taken into account during selection.

 

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Assigned Protection Factors

The assigned protection factor (APF) of a respirator reflects the level of protection that a properly functioning respirator would be expected to provide to a population of properly fitted and trained users.  For example, an APF of 10 for a respirator means that a user could expect to inhale no more than one tenth of  the airborne contaminant present.
Keep in MindKeep In Mind
bulletVarious groups such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have proposed factors for the different types of respirators available. 
bulletOSHA is developing a new regulation to address the issue.
bulletOSHA, in the interim, will recognize the APFs declared in its substance-specific standards, if applicable, or APFs granted by a specific OSHA interpretation, or the NIOSH APFs.

  Table of APFs for various types of Respirators

Respirator Class and TypeOSHA

Cadmium Std.

 NIOSH
Air Purifying  
Filtering Facepiece1010
Half-Mask1010
Full-Facepiece5050
   
Powered Air Purifying  
Half-Mask5050
Full-Facepiece25050
Loose Fitting Facepiece2525
Hood or Helmet2525
   
Supplied Air   
Half-Mask-Demand1010
Half-Mask-Continuous5050
Half-Mask-Pressure Demand10001000
Full-Facepiece Demand5050
Full-Facepiece Continuous Flow25050
Full-Facepiece Pressure Demand10002000
Loose Fitting Facepiece2525
Hood or Helmet2525
   
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)  
Demand5050
Pressure Demand>100010,000

  

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Exposure Control Priority

The Use of Respirators is the Least Satisfactory Method

Engineering and work practice controls are generally regarded as the most effective methods to control exposures to airborne hazardous substances. OSHA considers the use of respirators to be the least satisfactory approach to exposure control because… bulletrespirators provide adequate protection only if employers ensure, on a constant basis, that they are properly fitted and worn.
 
bulletrespirators protect only the employees who are wearing them from a hazard, rather than reducing or eliminating the hazard from the workplace as a whole (which is what engineering and work practice controls do).
 
bulletrespirators are uncomfortable to wear, cumbersome to use, and interfere with communication in the workplace, which can often be critical to maintaining safety and health.
 
bulletthe costs of operating a functional respiratory protection program are substantial — including regular medical examinations, fit testing, training, and the purchasing of equipment. horizontal rule

 

If you need help developing a respiratory protection program, call EHSO at 770-645-0788!