Respiratory protection is no better than the respirator in use, even though it is worn correctly. Frequent random inspections must be conducted by a qualified individual to make sure respirators are properly selected, used, cleaned, and maintained.
All respirators: For all respirators, inspections must include a check of respirator function, tightness of connections, and the condition of the various parts including, but not limited to the:
The elastomeric parts must be evaluated for pliability and signs of deterioration. Remember these important points about inspecting respirators:
Repair: Respirators that fail to pass inspection or are otherwise found to be defective must be removed from service, and discarded, repaired, or adjusted by properly trained personnel, using only the respirator manufacturer's NIOSH-approved parts designed for that respirator.
The repairs also must be made in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations and specifications regarding the type and extent of repairs to be performed. Because components such as reducing and admission valves, regulators, and alarms are complex and essential to the safe functioning of the respirator, they are required to be adjusted and repaired only by the manufacturer or a technician trained by the manufacturer.
When a respirator is taken out of service, the respirator must be tagged "out of service," and the employee should be given a replacement of the same make, model, and size.
Inspecting the work area: Make sure appropriate surveillance of work area conditions and degree of employee exposure or stress is conducted.
Audit the program: Regularly audit and evaluate the program to determine its continued effectiveness.
The program administrator should conduct evaluations of the respiratory protection program as necessary to make sure each component has been properly implemented. Evaluations of the program should determine whether the correct respirators are being used and worn properly and whether the training program is effective.
The program administrator should regularly consult with employees wearing respirators to get their views on program effectiveness and to identify any problems. This assessment must determine if the respirators are properly fitted. It must also evaluate:
The program administrator identifies and corrects any problems associated with wearing a respirator that are identified by employees or that are revealed during any other part of the program evaluation.
OSHA’s CPL 02-02-054 - Respiratory Protection Program Guidelines provides insight into the OSHA inspection protocol for respiratory protection. Design your own audits with these strategies in mind.
Training is an important part of the respiratory protection program and is essential for correct respirator use. In your initial and annual respirator training, be sure to include both an educational component and a training component.
Employees must receive training prior to using a respirator. For the training to be effective, the training must be comprehensive and presented in an understandable way.
Initial training should be conducted prior to the employee's first exposure to respiratory hazards and must cover, at a minimum, the following topics:
Retraining must be done annually and under some conditions, additional retraining might be required. Circumstances which would require retraining include situations where:
For example, training in the operation and use of SCBAs must be ongoing and continuous. Individuals who are designated to use SCBA must follow the manufacturer's instructions and be trained annually. Training must include the wearing and using SCBAs during exercise situations (e.g., walking).
All respirator training should be documented by the program administrator, and the documentation should include the type, model, and size of the respirator assigned to each employee.
Make sure students wear the respirator in normal air for a long familiarity period and then in a test atmosphere.
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