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Major Requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard
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Major Requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134
OSHA Office of Training and Education
Rev. December 2006
(a) Permissible Practice
- This standard applies to General Industry (Part 1910), Shipyards (Part
1915), Marine Terminals (Part 1917), Longshoring (Part 1918), and
Construction (Part 1926).
- 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
this standard.||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;
or||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
respirator;||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.
||Isoamyl acetate||Saccharin||Bitrex||Irritant smoke
||Generated Aerosol (corn oil, salt, DEHP)||Condensation Nuclei Counter (PortaCount)||Controlled Negative Pressure (Dynatech FitTester 3000)||Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP) REDON
- 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
(h) Maintenance and Care 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.)
Must clean and disinfect respirators using the
procedures in Appendix B-2, or equally effective manufacturer's procedures at
the following intervals:
(i) Breathing Air Quality and Use
- 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.
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
(k) Training and Information
- 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.
- 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
effective use||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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Major Requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard PDF File
This handout discusses the major requirements of OSHA's revised respiratory protection standard,
29 CFR 1910.134.
Respiratory Protection Frequently Asked Questions
This handout contains frequently asked questions and answers concerning respirators.
Regulatory Reference Materials
Tuberculosis and Respiratory Protection. (2004, July 30). Defines
the new enforcement policy for tuberculosis under
29 CFR 1910.134. Effective July 2, 2004, covered establishments must
comply with 29 CFR 1910.134 when using respirators for protection from
Comparison of Respiratory Protection for TB Standard (29 CFR
1910.139) with 29 CFR 1910.134. Also available as a 132 KB
PDF, 29 pages. Most of the requirements in
29 CFR 1910.134, and the former 29 CFR 1910.139 are basically
the same, however five areas now have more detailed requirements.
Respiratory protection requirements for hospital staff decontaminating
chemically contaminated patients. (2002, September 5).
Preemption of respiratory protection standard by DOT's Office of
Pipeline Safety regulations. (1999, April 8).
Clarification of the medical evaluation provisions of the revised
respiratory protection standard. (1998, November 16).
Questions and answers regarding the respiratory protection standard.
(1998, October 16).
Medical evaluation requirements under the respiratory protection
standard. (1998, October 5).
Conduct of respiratory protection medical evaluations by medical
technicians. (1998, October 16).
The OSHA interpretation of respiratory protection requirements with
regards to tuberculosis (TB) exposure. (1996, February 5).
- Search all available
Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respiratory Protection
Standard (CFR 1910.134). OSHA Publication 9071, (1999). Also
available as a 706 KB
PDF, 149 pages. Helps small businesses comply with the new
Respiratory Protection Standard. A sample respiratory protection
program is included in Appendix IV.
|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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OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134
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