Respiratory Protection

Can I be fit-tested if I have a beard?

It is important to have a good seal when using a respirator. Therefore, a qualitative respirator fit test will not be performed on individuals with facial hair that interferes with the respirator. If the facial hair sits inside the respirator, and the seal is against the skin, a fit test is feasible.

Do I have to complete an OSHA respirator medical evaluation questionnaire to be medically approved for a respirator?

Yes. Under federal law it is mandatory to complete this questionnaire as part of the medical evaluation. The form is provided by Occupational Health Services during the medical evaluation process.

Do I need medical clearance prior to wearing a respirator?

Yes. Employees must be medically cleared by Occupational Health Services and fit-tested by EHS before commencing use.

What is a respirator?

A respirator is a protective facepiece, hood or helmet that is designed to protect the wearer against a variety of harmful airborne agents.

When is respirator use applicable?

Respirators should be used for protection only when engineering controls have been shown to be infeasible for the control of the hazard or during the interim period when engineering controls are being installed. When used appropriately, respirators are there to protect employees from breathing contaminated air. Some respirators (e.g. self-contained breathing apparatuses) will additionally supply breathing air in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.

Where is medical clearance provided, and who provides it?

Medical clearance is provided by Occupational Health Services: (212) 746-4370. A physician or other licensed healthcare professional operating within the scope of his/her practice needs to medically evaluate employees to determine under what conditions they can safely wear respirators

Can any respirator be used or are there specific types?

No, all respirators shall be selected on the basis of hazards to be encountered in the workplace (i.e. particulates, vapors, mists, oxygen-deficient atmospheres, or a combination). Respirators are designed to combat specific hazards.

Who certifies respirators?

All respirators must be certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

My hazard requires the use of a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. Which class of respirator should be used to meet the HEPA requirement?

When HEPA filtration is required, the appropriate class of respirator is type 100 (N100, R100, or P100).

Do I ever need to be retested after my initial respirator fit-test?

Fit-testing is required annually to ensure a proper fit, and to retrain wearers on the care and usage of respiratory protection.

What do I need to do to complete my annual respirator fit-test?

A medical clearance is required for initial participation in the respiratory protection program. Follow-up annual fit-testing requires answering a medical questionnaire for evaluation by a licensed medical practitioner, and attending a scheduled fit-testing session where practices are discussed in addition to a refit. If your size changes, it will be noted on your fit-test form. Contact EHS to schedule fit-testing.

What do I do if my medical condition changes after my initial medical clearance to wear a respirator?

If there is a change in your medical condition that affects the wearing of a respirator, or if you develop difficulties in wearing a respirator, do not wait for your annual fit-test. Notify Occupational Health Service (OHS) for a medical revaluation. OHS will determine if you need another medical exam.

How can I determine if I need respiratory protection?

Refer to the PDF icon Respiratory Protection Program for general information concerning respirator use. Upon request, EHS is available to performs a hazard assessment of the work area (this may include personal monitoring) to determine if respiratory protection is needed.

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