Jul 21


Respirator Safety

Category: Toolbox Talks

Breathing in hazardous substances can lead to hospitalization immediately or years after an exposure. These exposures can lead to severe illness or even cause death. When working in areas with known or potentially hazardous airborne substances respiratory protection must be established by implementing engineering, administrative or Personal Protective Equipment controls. 

Respiratory Hazards may include:

  • Harmful dusts (lead, silica, and other heavy metals)
  • Fumes and smokes (welding fume, hexavalent chromium )
  • Gases and vapors (chemical exposures)
  • Biological hazards (tuberculosis, whooping cough, flu viruses)

Respirator Requirements (Company Mandated Respirator use)

Prior to issuing respirators, the workplace must first be assessed to determine if there is a need for respiratory protection. If the assessment determines that the use of respiratory protection is required, employees must be medically evaluated, trained, and properly fit tested for respirator use. These requirements are to be conducted on an annual basis and any time a change in the respirator occurs ie. size, manufacturer, or switch from half face to full face.

Respirator Requirements (Voluntary Use)

Acknowledgement Form for Employees using Respirators When Not Required Under the OSHA Standard. This form allows the employer to provide proper training on use, care, and limitations to the employee wanting to voluntarily use a filtering face piece. The use of respiratory protection beyond a filtering face piece is not covered by Appendix D and therefore can not be used without a complete fit test, medical evaluation, and proper training.
Employees who choose to wear a filtering face piece (dust mask) in scenarios not mandated by the employer, are allowed to do so as long as they comply with OSHA standard that references Appendix D. Appendix D is the , Information and

Respirator Basics

  • Respirators must always be inspected prior to use. The inspection should check for missing or worn respirator parts.
  • Ensure that the proper cartridge or filter is selected based on the hazard.
  • Respirator users must use the respirator properly and verify a good fit by performing positive and negative user seal checks each time the respirator is donned.
  • Respirator users must know the limitations of their respirator and stay clean shaven in the respirator seal area.
  • Employees may not share respirators and must only use the respirator for which they have been fitted for. Respirators must be cleaned and stored properly after each use.



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