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Millions of workers are required to wear respirators in various workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death.
Not recognizing the applicability of this broadly applying and complex regulation is why the Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) is often one of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following workplace OSHA inspections. In fact, well intended employers providing respirators to employees who can’t answer the below questions are likely already in violation.
1. How do we know which hazards pose danger?
2. When are they hazardous?
3. When does OSHA mandate respiratory protection?
4. Does OSHA require employers to identify and evaluate these airborne hazards?
5. What is “fit testing” and how does that work?
6. Is specific training required?
7. What are the medical implications and requirements?
8. How can we determine which respirator should be selected?
OSHA requires employers to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures and elements for required respirator use.
Even when respirators are worn voluntarily certain program elements may be required to prevent potential hazards associated with the use of the respirator.
Many employers are unaware that OSHA requires the Respirator Program to be administered by a “suitably trained program administrator”.
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