What do I need to be compliant with OSHA's respiratory safety regulations?
To comply with OSHA's respiratory safety regulations, specifically the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134), you will need to follow these essential steps:
- Written Respiratory Protection Program: Develop a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures. The program must be administered by a suitably trained program administrator who can identify respiratory hazards.
- Hazard Evaluation: Perform an evaluation of the workplace to identify harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, vapors, or insufficient oxygen environments. This should help determine whether engineering controls can be implemented (like ventilation) or if respirators are necessary.
- Respirator Selection: Based on the identified hazards and their concentrations, and the work activities that may affect respirator performance, select appropriate NIOSH-certified respirators. The selected respirator must be appropriate for the chemical state and physical form of the contaminant.
- Medical Evaluations: Provide medical evaluations to workers to determine their ability to wear a respirator before the worker is fit tested or required to use the respirator in the workplace.
- Fit Testing: Perform fit testing for all employees required to use a tight-fitting facepiece respirator. Fit testing must be done prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is chosen, and at least annually thereafter. It must also be performed whenever changes in the employee’s physical condition could affect the respirator fit.
- Training: Train workers on the respiratory hazards they may be exposed to during routine and emergency situations, proper use and maintenance of respirators, and the correct procedures for donning and doffing respirators.
- Cleaning, Maintenance, and Replacement: Respirators must be properly cleaned, maintained, and stored to prevent potential contamination and damage. Respirators should be replaced as necessary.
- Program Evaluation: Regularly evaluate the program's effectiveness and make corrections as necessary to protect the health of the employees.
- Breathing Air Quality and Use: For supplied-air respirators, ensure that breathing air quality and use comply with the detailed specifications outlined in the standard.
These steps provide a broad overview of the requirements and should be adapted to your specific situation. For a comprehensive understanding and to ensure full compliance, you should review the standard in detail or seek professional advice.