Respiratory Protection Standard replaced the respiratory protection standards adopted by OSHA in 1971 (29 CFR 1910.134 and 29 CFR 1926.103), and it applies to general industry, construction, shipyard, longshoring, and marine terminal workplaces.
The entire previous respirator standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, was redesignated as 29 CFR 1910.139 Respiratory protection for M. tuberculosis, and will continue to apply to respirator use for protection against exposure to TB until OSHA finalizes its TB standard.
Major Requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134
OSHA Office of Training and Education
Rev. December 2006
This standard applies to General Industry (Part 1910), Shipyards (Part
1915), Marine Terminals (Part 1917), Longshoring (Part 1918), and
Construction (Part 1926).
(a) Permissible Practice
Paragraph (a)(1) establishes OSHA’s
by requiring the use of
as the primary means to control air
contaminants. Respirators are required when "effective engineering controls
are not feasible, or while they are being instituted."
Paragraph (a)(2) requires employers to provide employees with
respirators that are "applicable and suitable" for the purpose intended
"when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the employee."
This paragraph contains definitions of important terms
used in the regulatory text.
Respiratory Protection Program
Must designate a qualified program administrator
to oversee the program.
Must provide respirators, training, and medical evaluations
at no cost to the employee.
OSHA has prepared a Small Entity Compliance Guide
that contains criteria for selection of a program administrator and a sample
(d) Selection of Respirators
Must select a respirator certified by the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which must be
used in compliance with the conditions of its certification.
Must identify and evaluate the respiratory hazards in the workplace,
including a reasonable estimate of employee exposures and identification of
the contaminant’s chemical state and physical form.
Where exposure cannot be identified or reasonably estimated, the
atmosphere shall be considered immediately dangerous to life or health
Respirators for IDLH atmospheres:
full facepiece pressure demand self-contained breathing
apparatus (SCBA) certified by NIOSH for a minimum service life of
thirty minutes, or
combination full facepiece pressure demand supplied-air
respirator (SAR) with auxiliary self-contained air supply.
All oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5%
O2 by volume) shall be considered IDLH.
Exception: If the employer can demonstrate
that, under all foreseeable conditions, oxygen levels in the work area
can be maintained within the ranges specified in Table II (i.e., between
19.5% and a lower value that corresponds to an altitude-adjusted oxygen
partial pressure equivalent to 16% oxygen at sea level), then any
atmosphere-supplying respirator may be used.
Respirators for non-IDLH atmospheres:
Employers must use the assigned protection
factors (APFs) 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.
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 maximum use
Must not apply MUCs to conditions that are IDLH; instead must
use respirators listed for IDLH conditions in paragraph (d)(2) of
When the calculated MUC exceeds the IDLH level 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 of the
employer’s workplace, the employer implements a
change schedule for canisters and
cartridges that will ensure that they are changed before the end
of their service life and describes in the respirator program
the information and data relied upon and basis for the change
schedule and reliance on the data.
For protection against particulates, the employer shall provide:
an atmosphere-supplying respirator; or
an air-purifying respirator equipped with high efficiency
particulate air (HEPA) filters certified by NIOSH under 30 CFR Part
11 or with filters certified for particulates under 42 CFR Part 84;
an air-purifying respirator equipped with any filter certified
for particulates by NIOSH for contaminants consisting primarily of
particles with mass median aerodynamic diameters of at least 2
(e) Medical Evaluation
Must provide a medical evaluation to determine employee’s ability to use
a respirator, before fit testing and use.
Must 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 (information required is
contained in mandatory Appendix C).
Must obtain a written recommendation regarding
the employee’s ability to use the respirator from the PLHCP.
Additional medical evaluations are required under certain circumstances,
employee reports medical signs or symptoms related to ability to use
PLHCP, program administrator, or supervisor recommends reevaluation;
information from the respirator program, including observations made
during fit testing and program evaluation, indicates a need; or
change occurs in workplace conditions that may substantially
increase the physiological burden on an employee.
Annual review of medical status is not required.
(f) Fit Testing
All employees using a negative or positive pressure
tight-fitting facepiece respirator must pass an appropriate
qualitative fit test (QLFT) or
quantitative fit test (QNFT).
Fit testing is required prior to initial use, whenever a different
respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually
thereafter. An additional fit test is required whenever the employee
reports, or the employer or PLHCP makes visual observations of, changes in
the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g.,
facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in
The fit test shall be administered using an OSHA-accepted QLFT or QNFT
protocol, as contained in mandatory Appendix A.
QLFT may only be used to fit test negative pressure air-purifying
respirators (APRs) that must achieve a fit factor of 100 or less.
If the fit factor determined through QNFT is ≥100 for tight-fitting half
facepieces, or ≥500 for tight-fitting full facepieces, the QNFT has been
passed with that respirator.
Note: If a particular OSHA standard (e.g., 29 CFR 1910.1001
Asbestos) requires the use of a full facepiece APR capable of
providing protection in concentrations up to 50 times the
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), this respirator must be QNFT. This
is because a protection factor of 50 (50 X PEL) multiplied by a
standard safety factor of 10 is equivalent to a fit factor of 500.
The safety factor of 10 is used because protection factors in
the workplace tend to be much lower than the fit factors achieved
during fit testing. The use of a safety factor is a standard
practice supported by most experts to offset this limitation. This
is discussed in the record at 63 FR 1225.
(g) Use of Respirators
Tight-fitting respirators shall not be worn by employees who have facial
hair or any condition that interferes with the face-to-facepiece seal or
Personal protective equipment shall be worn in such a manner that does
not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user.
Employees shall perform a user seal check each time
they put on a tight-fitting respirator using the procedures in
mandatory Appendix B-1 or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures.
Procedures for respirator use in IDLH atmospheres are stated. In
addition to these requirements, interior structural firefighting requires
the use of SCBAs and a protective practice known as "2-in/2-out" — at least
two employees must enter and remain in visual or voice contact with one
another at all times, and at least two employees must be located outside.
(Note that this is not meant to preclude firefighters from performing
emergency rescue activities before an entire team has assembled.)
(h) Maintenance and Care of Respirators
Must clean and disinfect respirators using the
procedures in Appendix B-2, or equally effective manufacturer's procedures at
the following intervals:
as often as necessary to maintain a sanitary condition for exclusive use
before being worn by different individuals when issued to more than one
after each use for emergency use respirators and
those used in fit testing and training.
(i) Breathing Air Quality and Use
Compressed breathing air shall meet the requirements for
Type 1-Grade D breathing air as described in ANSI/CGA
Commodity Specification for Air, G-7.1-1989.
(j) Identification of Filters, Cartridges, and
All filters, cartridges, and canisters used in the workplace must be
labeled and color coded with the NIOSH approval label.
The label must not be removed and must remain legible.
(k) Training and Information
Must provide effective training to respirator users, including:
why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, use, or
maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator
limitations and capabilities of the respirator
use in emergency situations
how to inspect, put on and remove, use and check the seals
procedures for maintenance and storage
recognition of medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent
general requirements of this standard
Training required prior to initial use, unless acceptable training has
been provided by another employer within the past 12 months.
Retraining required annually and when:
workplace conditions change,
new types of respirator are used, or
inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use indicates need.
The basic advisory information in Appendix D shall be provided to
employees who wear respirators when their use is not required.
(l) Program Evaluation
Employer must conduct evaluations of the workplace as
necessary to ensure proper implementation of the program and consult with
employees to ensure proper use.
Records of medical evaluations must be retained and made available per
29 CFR 1910.1020.
A record of fit tests must be established and retained until the next
A written copy of the current program must be retained.
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This handout discusses the major requirements of OSHA's revised respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134.
Respiratory Protection Frequently Asked Questions PDF File
This handout contains frequently asked questions and answers concerning respirators.
Regulatory Reference Materials
Respiratory Protection Program Guidelines. CPL 02-02-054 [CPL
2-254A], (2000, July 14). Sets forth guidelines for establishing and
implementing an OSHA respirator program to ensure that all OSHA
employees are protected from exposure to respiratory hazards.
Questions and Answers on the
Respiratory Protection Standard. OSHA, (1998, August
17), 242 KB
PDF, 82 pages. Provides questions and answers relating
to each paragraph of the Respiratory Protection Standard. A
Spanish translation of the Medical Questionnaire (Appendix
C) is included at the end of the document.
OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134
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