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Course 894 - Lead Safety in Shipyards

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Respiratory Protection

Grinding paint.
Worker using respirator while grinding paint.

Note: As stated in OSHA Standard 1915.154 - Respiratory protection for shipyard employment is covered by OSHA Standard 1910.134.

A respirator is a device that protects you from inhaling dangerous substances, such as chemicals and infectious particles. Respirators are among the most important pieces of protective equipment for working in hazardous environments.

Selecting the right respirator requires an assessment of all the workplace operations, processes or environments that may create a respiratory hazard. The identity of the hazard and its airborne concentrations need to be determined before choosing a respirator. This assessment should be done by experienced safety personnel or by an industrial hygienist.

Respirators work by:

  • filtering particles from the air,
  • chemically cleaning (purifying) the air, or
  • supplying clean air from an outside source.

Mechanical paint removal operations produce dust, which may present significant health hazards when used in confined or enclosed spaces. Hazards include:

  • dry ice (C02) when used as blast media;
  • heavy metal dust including lead, arsenic, cadmium, chrome and beryllium;
  • silica dust; and
  • toxic fumes produced by flame removal of paint.

1. Which of the following is NOT a function of a respirator?

a. Filtering particles from the air
b. Chemically purifying the air
c. Humidifying the air
d. Supplying clean air

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Helmet, gloves, and safety glasses
Respiratory protection is necessary to protect from inhalation of lead dust.

General Requirements

Although engineering, administrative, and work practice controls are the primary means of protecting workers from exposure to lead, they may be insufficient to control exposure. In these cases, airborne lead concentrations may be high and variable. Respirators often must be used to supplement other controls to reduce worker lead exposures below the PEL.

The standard requires that respirators be used before entering the work area and during any workday when an employee’s exposure to lead exceeds the PEL of 50 ug/m3 over 8 hours, including:

  • periods necessary to install or implement engineering or work practice controls, and
  • work operations for which engineering and work practice controls are insufficient to reduce employee exposures to or below the PEL.

When respirators are required or requested, employers must provide them at no cost to workers. Respirators must be used when performing high exposure or "trigger" tasks, before completion of the initial assessment.

Click on the buttons below to view a couple of DOL-OSHA videos about respirator requirements.

2. Affected workers must don respirators before entering the work area where daily airborne exposure to lead exceeds _____.

a. 30 ug/m3
b. 45 ug/m3
c. 50 µg/m3
d. 85 ug/mg

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Sraying paint.
Worker wearing a respirator while spraying paint.

Respiratory Protection Programs

When respirators are required at a worksite, the employer must establish a respiratory protection program in accordance with the OSHA standard on respiratory protection, 29 CFR 1910.134.

Elements that have a more direct impact on the user include knowledge of selection criteria, medical evaluations, procedures for proper use, fit-testing, and maintenance procedures.

Click on the button below to see the elements of an effective respiratory protection program.

The elements of an effective respiratory protection program include:

  • selecting appropriate respirators for use in the workplace;
  • training employees in the proper use of respirators (including putting them on and removing them), the limitations on their use, and their maintenance;
  • providing medical evaluation and surveillance of employees who must use respirators.
  • fit testing tight-fitting respirators;
  • using respirators properly in routine situations as well as in reasonably foreseeable emergencies;
  • ensuring adequate air supply, quantity, and flow of breathing air for atmosphere-supplying respirators;
  • establishing and adhering to schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, removing from service or discarding, and otherwise maintaining respirators; and
  • regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the program.

3. Each of the following is an element in a Respiratory Protection Program EXCEPT _____.

a. medical evaluation and surveillance
b. respirator use training
c. fit testing procedure
d. progressive disciplinary process

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Respirator Selection

When working with lead, employees should use particulate respirators that have the following characteristics:

  • Respirator selection requires correctly matching the respirator with the type and degree of the hazard, and the user.
  • The properly selected respirator must effectively reduce user exposure under all conditions, including reasonably foreseeable emergency escape situations.
  • The program manager should make a respirator available to each employee who is assigned a job that requires respiratory protection.

General Requirements

Proper respirator selection involves choosing a device that will protect the employee from the respiratory hazards to which he or she may be exposed, yet permits the employee to perform the job with the least amount of physical burden.

Click on the button below to see factors to consider when selecting respirators.

Factors to consider when selecting respirators include:

  • the nature of the hazard, and the physical and chemical properties of the air contaminant;
  • concentrations of contaminants;
  • relevant permissible exposure limit or other occupational exposure limit;
  • the nature of the work operation or process;
  • the length of time the respirator is used;
  • work activities and physical/psychological stress;
  • fit testing; and
  • physical characteristics, functional capabilities, and limitations of respirators.

Assigned Protection Factors (APFs)

Assigned Protection Factor (APF) means the workplace level of respiratory protection that a respirator or class of respirators is expected to provide to employees when you implement a continuing, effective respiratory protection program.

For higher-risk exposure situations (i.e., a higher concentration of infectious particles), choosing a respirator with a higher APF provides a higher level of protection for the wearer. The APFs for different types of respirators are presented in Table 1 of the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard 1910.134.

4. Respirator selection requires correctly matching the respirator with _____.

a. the work and the respirator
b. the hazard and the user
c. the user and the work
d. the user and the requirement

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Respirator Types

It's important to know that lead workers should not use filtering facepieces (single- or double-strap dust masks) while performing work that exposes the worker to asbestos or lead. Lead workers should choose from one of the following four types of respirators:

  1. Half-face respirators can be used for protection against most vapors, acid gases, dust or welding fumes. Cartridges/filters must match contaminant(s) and be changed periodically.
  2. Full-face respirators are more protective than half-face respirators. They can also be used for protection against most vapors, acid gases, dust or welding fumes. The face-shield protects face and eyes from irritants and contaminants. Cartridges/filters must match contaminant(s) and be changed periodically.
  3. Loose-fitting powered-air-purifying respirators (PAPR) offer breathing comfort from a battery-powered fan which pulls air through filters and circulates air throughout helmet/hood. They can be worn by most workers who have beards. Cartridges/filters must match contaminant(s) and be changed periodically.
  4. A Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is used for entry and escape from atmospheres that are considered immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) or oxygen deficient. They use their own air tank.

Click on the buttons to see examples of the four types of respirators.

Half Face Respirator

Full Face Respirator

PAPR Respirator

SCBA Respirator

If exposure monitoring or experience indicates airborne exposures to contaminants other than lead such as silica, solvents, or polyurethane coatings, these exposures must be considered when selecting respiratory protection.

Click on the button to watch an OSHA video on the various types of respirators.

For more information see OSHA's 1910.134, Respiratory protection standard, and Quick Card.

5. Which of the following types of respirators is NOT acceptable for use if the workers is exposed to lead dust?

a. Half-face respirator
b. Full-face respirator
c. Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
d. Filtering facepiece (dust mask)

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Fit Testing

Respirator fit test
Fit tests are required to ensure proper respirator fit.

Where daily airborne exposure to lead exceeds 50 µg/m3, affected workers must don respirators before entering the work area and should not remove them until they leave the high-exposure area or have completed a decontamination procedure. Employers must assure that the respirator issued to the employee is selected and fitted properly to ensure minimum leakage through the facepiece-to-face seal.

Fit testing is a procedure used to determine how well a respirator "fits"—that is, whether the respirator forms a seal on the user's face. Before any employee first starts wearing a respirator in the work environment, the employer must perform a respirator fit test. For all employees wearing negative or positive pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirators, the employer must perform either qualitative or quantitative fit tests using an OSHA-accepted fit testing protocol. In addition, employees must be fit tested whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter.

If an employee has difficulty breathing during a fit test or while using a respirator, the employer must make a medical examination available to that employee to determine whether he or she can wear a respirator safely.

Click on the button below to see a DOL-OSHA video about respirator fit testing.

6. What action must an employer take if an employee has difficulty breathing during a respirator fit test?

a. Reassign the employee to another job
b. Do not require use of a respirator
c. Terminate the employee's job
d. Make a medical exam available

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Inspection Requirements

Helmet, gloves, and safety glasses
Inspect respirators before each use.

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:

  • facepiece,
  • head straps,
  • valves,
  • connecting tube, and
  • cartridges, canisters, or filters.

It's especially important to evaluate elastomeric parts for pliability and signs of deterioration.

Click the buttons below to see a list of important points to remember when inspecting respirators and a couple of videos on PPE and inspections.

  • inspect SCBAs monthly;
  • inspect respirators that are used routinely before each use and during cleaning;
  • replace any worn or deteriorated parts;
  • be sure to thoroughly inspect SCBAs for emergency use at least once a month and after each use;
  • the program administrator should keep a record of emergency respirator inspections. Records should include dates, serial numbers, findings, any remedial action;
  • make sure air and oxygen cylinders are fully charged according to the manufacturer's instructions. They should be recharged if pressure falls to 90% of the manufacturer’s recommended pressure;
  • make sure the regulator and warning devices function properly;
  • check the tightness of connections and the condition of the facepiece, headbands, valves, connecting tube, and canisters;
  • inspect rubber or elastomer (elastic rubber) parts for pliability and signs of deterioration;
  • stretch and manipulate rubber or elastomer parts with a massaging action to keep them pliable and flexible and prevent them from taking a set during storage; and
  • a record must be kept of inspection dates and findings for respirators maintained for emergency use.

7. It is especially important for workers inspecting respirators to evaluate elastomeric parts for _____.

a. cracked facepiece
b. manufacturer's stamp and date
c. pliability and deterioration
d. reusability and color

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Warning signs in a traffic zone.
Education includes instruction, training, and evaluation.

The employer must to provide effective respiratory protection training to employees who are required to use respirators. The training must be comprehensive, understandable, and recur annually, and more often if necessary. Training must be provided prior to requiring the employee to use a respirator in the workplace.

Initial Training

The employer must provide the basic information on respirators in 1910.134, Appendix D to employees who wear respirators when not required by this section or by the employer to do so.

Click on the button below to see a list of mandatory topics for respiratory protection training.

The employer must ensure that each employee can demonstrate knowledge of at least the following:

  1. why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator;
  2. what the limitations and capabilities of the respirator are; (iii) How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations, including situations in which the respirator malfunctions;
  3. how to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator;
  4. what the procedures are for maintenance and storage of the respirator;
  5. how to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators; and
  6. the general requirements of this section.


Retraining must be administered annually and when the following situations occur:

  1. changes in the workplace or the type of respirator render previous training obsolete;
  2. inadequacies in the employee's knowledge or use of the respirator indicate that the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill; or
  3. any other situation arises in which retraining appears necessary to ensure safe respirator use.

Click on the button below to see an OSHA video on respirator program training requirements.

For more information on OSHA training requirements see OSHA Pub 2254, Training Requirements in OSHA Standards, and OSHAcademy Course 703, Introduction to OSHA Training.

8. Which of the following situations would require respiratory protection retraining?

a. Change in assigned respirator type
b. Failure to use respirator at least monthly
c. Refusal to remove facial hair
d. Unsafe use of the respirator

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

Final Exam