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OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) requires that employees be medically cleared and fit tested before wearing a respirator. A physician or other licensed health care professional must review the employees' medical history before respirator usage/eligibility is determined. Professional Fit Testing Services can provide a cost effective solution for compliance.

Respirator FAQ

Does my company need to establish a respirator protection program?

If you require or provide respirators to employees, then a written respiratory protection plan is required by OSHA. In many cases, the employer either provides one or allows the employee to use his/her own.  Under those circumstances, section 1910.134(c)(2)(i) requires that the employer provide current respirator protection use information, and implements a written respiratory program. The only exception to this rule is when an employee voluntarily uses a simple dust mask.

The program must include information that helps the employee determine whether or not he/she is healthy enough to use the respirator; that it is properly cleaned, stored, and maintained; and poses no threat of danger.

Q: What is a respirator?

A: A respirator is a protective face piece, hood or helmet that is designed to protect the wearer against a variety of harmful airborne agents.
Q: When is the use of respirators required?

A: OSHA's respirator standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, requires the use of respirators to protect employees from breathing contaminated and/or oxygen-deficient air when effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted. Several other OSHA regulations also require the use of respirators.  
Q: Can any respirator be used?

A: No, respirators shall be selected on the basis of hazards to which the worker is exposed (i.e., particulates, vapors, oxygen-deficiency, or combination). Also, OSHA requires the use of certified respirators.
Q: Who certifies respirators?

A: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Q: How can a certified respirator be recognized?

A: On July 10, 1995, 30 CFR Part 11 certification procedures were replaced by 42 CFR Part 84 procedures. Under the 30 CFR Part 11 approval system, manufacturers were required to mark cartridges and filters with an abbreviated label that included a NIOSH/MSHA approval number ("TC number"). Under the 40 CFR Part 84 approval system, cartridges and filters are no longer marked with a "TC number". Instead, they are marked with "NIOSH", the manufacturer's name and part number, and an abbreviation to indicate the cartridge (e.g., OV, CL) or filter (e.g., N95, P100) type.
All cartridges and filters are to be supplied with a matrix approval label, usually as an insert in the box. This label shows the NIOSH approved configurations and includes the "TC number", component parts, and cautions and use limitations.

Non-powered particulate respirators that were approved under 30 CFR Part 11 and use the "old" labeling were allowed to be manufactured and sold until July 10, 1998. Distributors were able to sell them and end-users were able to use them until their inventories were depleted.

NIOSH established the 42 CFR Part 84 test criteria to simulate worst-case respirator use. NIOSH encourages users to discontinue the use of particulate respirators certified under 30 CFR Part 11 and switch to particulate respirators certified under 42 CFR Part 84.
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