Risk Management Services

A Unit of the Business Affairs Division

Respiratory Protection

Background

Respirators are personal protective equipment worn to reduce inhalation exposure to hazardous contaminants when present at harmful levels in the air. Respirators are protective when selected to match the hazard(s) present and worn correctly. The two types of respirators, air purifying and air supplying, are available in a variety of models, as shown in Table 1. Air purifying respirators protect the wearer by filtering or adsorbing specific airborne contaminants (harmful dusts, biological agents (pathogens and allergens), radionuclides, chemicals, vapors, gases). Disposable particulate respirators (such as N95, R95, P100) and 1/2-mask air purifying cartridge respirators are most commonly used on campus. Air supplying respirators provide clean breathing air to the wearer during work such as abrasive blasting, work or egress from oxygen deficient atmospheres and hazardous chemical spill response.

Table 1: Air Purifying and Air Supply Respirator Examples

Air Purifying Respirators
Remove contaminants from air
Air Supply Respirators
Provide clean air source
Disposable Dust Masks

Figure 1. Disposable Dust Masks N95, (N,R,P,95,99,100)

1/2 face

Figure 2. 1/2 face

SCBA

Figure 5. SCBA, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

full-face

Figure 3. full-face

PAPR

Figure 1. PAPR - Powered Air Purifying Respirator (loose-fitting helmet)

Graphics Source: OSHA Small Entity Respiratory Protection

Respiratory Protection Program

To promote protective respirator use by employees in the workplace, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration established the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134). To assist department managers and supervisors in meeting this standard, Risk Management Services administers the University of Arizona Respiratory Protection Program. Program requirements and responsibilities are summarized in Table 2:

Table 2: Respiratory Protection Program Requirements and Responsibilities

RESPIRATORY PROTECTION PROGRAM
Requirement
Responsibilities

When Respirator Use Is Required

By OSHA Standard or University of Arizona Guideline

to reduce airborne hazard to acceptable level

When Respirator Use Is Voluntary

for nuisance contaminant levels limited to disposable filtering face pieces N95s, (N,R,P) 95,99,100 only

Assess Respiratory Hazard(routine, non-routine, emergency)
Risk Management & Supervisor ( Research Laboratory & Safety Services for research laboratories)
Risk Management & Supervisor ( Research Laboratory & Safety Services for research laboratories)
Select NIOSH-certified respirators
Set cartridge-change-out schedules
Risk Management
Risk Management
Medical evaluation
Campus Health
Occupational Health Services
Not Required
Training
Hands-On Risk
Management
Risk Management
Fit Testing
for respirators that fit tightly to face
Risk Management
Not Required
Inspection, Cleaning, Disinfection, Storage, Disposal
Departments
Departments
Purchase
Departments
at no charge to employees
Departments or Employees
Administer Program Recordkeeping
Risk Management
 

NIOSH National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

When possible, it is always preferable to eliminate or reduce airborne hazards at the source so respirators are not required because all respirators have limitations and protect the wearers, but not others in the vicinity. Exposure controls include substituting a safer chemical/material, engineered ventilation or work process modifications. Respirator misuse can lead to serious illness or death should an employee enter an air hazard area wearing the incorrect type of respirator for the hazard. The costs of respirators can also be significant, including respirator purchase, medical evaluation and fit testing.