Section 11: Respiratory Protection Policy

11.1      Respiratory Protection Policy - General

This Respiratory Protection Policy shall be administered by the facilities manager and shall be reviewed and updated as appropriate.

11.2      Policy Statement

A.      It is the policy of Piedmont Virginia Community College to prevent employee exposure to atmospheric contamination to minimize the threat of occupational diseases. This objective shall be accomplished, as far as feasible, by work practices and engineering controls. However, when work practices and engineering controls are not adequate or feasible, or while the engineering controls are being instituted, appropriate respirators shall be used.

  1. PVCC shall provide respirators that are suitable for the purpose intended.
  2. Employees shall be trained in the proper use of respirators as well as their limitations.

B.      Employees shall not be assigned tasks requiring the use of respirators unless it has been determined that they are physically able to perform the task and use the equipment.  A physician shall determine what health and physical conditions are pertinent. 

  1. The respirator user's medical status shall be reviewed on an annual basis.

C.      Each task that has the potential for respiratory hazards shall be evaluated to determine worker protection requirements.


11.3      Use of Respiratory Protection Equipment

A.      Use of respirators shall be required as follows:

  1. In regulated areas within the facility.
  2. In emergencies.
  3. Where engineering and work practice controls are inadequate.
  4. Where potential exposure exceeds the permissible limits.
  5. During maintenance and repair activities and during brief or intermittent operations where engineering and work practice controls are not feasible.

B.     To ensure that an adequate seal is achieved, the facepiece fit shall be checked by the employee each time he or she puts on the respirator.

C.     If hair growth or apparel interfere with a satisfactory fit, then hair or clothing shall be altered or removed to eliminate interference and allow a satisfactory fit.  If a satisfactory fit is still not attained, the employee shall use a positive-pressure respirator such as a powered air-purifying respirator, supplied-air respirator, or self-contained breathing apparatus.

D.     Full-face respirators having provisions for corrective optical inserts shall be provided as necessary.  These respirators shall be used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

11.4      Inspection, Maintenance & Care of Respiratory Equipment

A.     Routine use respirators shall be inspected before each use and during cleaning in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

B.     Respirators that fail an inspection or are otherwise found to be defective shall be discarded.

C.     Storage of Respirators:  Respirators shall be stored to protect them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals

D.     Filter cartridges and canisters shall be used and stored according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

11.5      Training

A.      Training in the use and care of respiratory protection shall be provided to employees as follows: 

  1. Before the employee is first assigned duties that require respiratory protection.
  2. Before there is a change in assigned duties.
  3. Whenever there is a change in operations that present a hazard for which an employee has not previously been trained.
  4. Whenever PVCC has reason to believe that there have been deviations from established respiratory procedures or that there are inadequacies in the employee's knowledge or use of these procedures.

11.6      Respiratory Equipment Fit Testing

A.     PVCC shall conduct fit testing before an employee using any respirator. The employee shall be fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used.

B.     PVCC shall maintain a record of each Qualitative Fit Test (QLFT) and Quantitative Fit Test (QNFT) administered to an employee; including, without limitation, the following:

  1. Date of test.
  2. Type of fit test performed.
  3. The name or identification of the employee tested.
  4. Make, model, style, and size of respirator tested.
  5. The pass/fail results for QLFTs or the fit factor and strip chart recording or other recordings of the test results for QNFTs.
  6. Fit test records shall be retained until the next fit test is administered.

11.7      Medical Evaluations

A.     PVCC shall provide medical evaluations in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.134, Appendix C to determine each employee's ability to use a respirator before the employee is fit tested or required to use the respirator in the workplace. 

  1. PVCC shall discontinue an employee's medical evaluations when the employee is no longer required to use a respirator.

B.     PVCC shall identify a Physician or other Licensed Health Care Professional (PLHCP) to perform medical evaluations using the OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (see Appendix F) or an initial medical examination that obtains the same information as the medical questionnaire.

C.     A follow-up medical examination shall be provided for any employee who gives a positive response to any of the questions 1 through 8 of Part A, Section 2 in the Questionnaire and/or demonstrates the need for a follow-up medical examination. The follow-up medical examination shall include any medical tests, consultations, or diagnostic procedures that the PLHCP deems necessary.

D.     PVCC shall provide additional medical evaluations under the following conditions:

  1. If an employee reports medical signs or symptoms that are related to his or her ability to use a respirator.
  2. If a PLHCP, supervisor, or the respirator program administrator informs the college that an employee needs to be reevaluated.
  3. If observations made during fit testing and program evaluation indicate a need for employee reevaluation.
  4. If a change occurs in workplace conditions (e.g., physical work effort, protective clothing, temperature, etc.) that may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on an employee.

11.8      Definitions

A.     Air-Purifying Respirator:  A respirator with an air-purifying filter, cartridge, or canister that removes specific air contaminants by passing ambient air through the air-purifying element.

B.     Atmosphere-Supplying Respirator:  A respirator that supplies the respirator user with breathing air from a source independent of the ambient atmosphere, and includes supplied-air respirators (SARs) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units.

C.    Canister or Cartridge:  A container with a filter, sorbent, or catalyst, or combination of these items, which removes specific contaminants from the air passed through the container.

D.    Demand Respirator:  An atmosphere-supplying respirator that admits breathing air to the facepiece only when negative pressure is created inside the facepiece by inhalation.

E.     Emergency Situation:  Any occurrence such as, but not limited to, equipment failure, rupture of containers, or failure of control equipment that may or does result in an uncontrolled significant release of an airborne contaminant.

F.     Employee Exposure:  Exposure to a concentration of an airborne contaminant that would occur if the employee were not using respiratory protection.

G.    End-of-Service-Life Indicator (ESLI):  A system that warns the respirator user of the approach of the end of adequate respiratory protection, for example, that the sorbent is approaching saturation or is no longer effective.

H.    Escape-Only Respirator:  A respirator intended to be used only for emergency exit.

I.      Filter or Air Purifying Element:  A component used in respirators to remove solid or liquid aerosols from the inspired air.

J.     Filtering Face Piece (Dust Mask):  A negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the facepiece or with the entire facepiece composed of the filtering medium.

K.     Fit Factor:  A quantitative estimate of the fit of a particular respirator to a specific individual, and typically estimates the ratio of the concentration of a substance in ambient air to its concentration inside the respirator when worn.

L.     Fit Test:  The use of a protocol to qualitatively or quantitatively evaluate the fit of a respirator on an individual.  (See also Qualitative fit test QLFT and Quantitative fit test QNFT.)

M.    Helmet:  A rigid respiratory inlet covering that also provides head protection against impact and penetration.

N.    High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter:  A filter that is at least 99.97 percent efficient in removing monodisperse particles of 0.3 micrometers in diameter.  The equivalent NIOSH 42 CFR 84 particulate filters are the N100, R100, and P100 filters.

O.    Hood:  A respiratory inlet covering that completely covers the head and neck and may also cover portions of the shoulders and torso.

P.     Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH):  An atmosphere that poses an immediate threat to life, would cause irreversible adverse health effects, or would impair an individual's ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere.

Q.    Interior Structural Firefighting:  The physical activity of fire suppression, rescue or both, inside of buildings or enclosed structures which are involved in a fire situation beyond the incipient stage.  (See 29 CFR 1910.155.)

R.    Loose-Fitting Facepiece:  A respiratory inlet covering that is designed to form a partial seal with the face.

S.     Negative Pressure Respirator (Tight Fitting):  A respirator in which the air pressure inside the facepiece is negative during inhalation with respect to the ambient air pressure outside the respirator.

T.     Oxygen Deficient Atmosphere:  An atmosphere with an oxygen content below 19.5 percent by volume.

U.    Physician or Other Licensed Health Care Professional (PLHCP):  An individual whose legally permitted scope of practice (i.e., license, registration, or certification) allows him or her to independently provide, or be delegated the responsibility to provide, some or all of the health care services required by the respiratory protection standard.

V.     Positive Pressure Respirator:  A respirator in which the pressure inside the respiratory inlet covering exceeds the ambient air pressure outside the respirator.

W.   Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR):  An air-purifying respirator that uses a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements to the inlet covering.

X.     Pressure Demand Respirator:  A positive pressure atmosphere-supplying respirator that admits breathing air to the facepiece when the positive pressure is reduced inside the facepiece by inhalation.

Y.     Qualitative Fit Test (QLFT):  A pass/fail fit test to assess the adequacy of respirator fit that relies on the individual's response to the test agent.

Z.     Quantitative Fit Test (QNFT):  An assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.

AA.     Respiratory Inlet Covering:  That portion of a respirator that forms the protective barrier between the user's respiratory tract and an air-purifying device or breathing air source, or both.  It may be a facepiece, helmet, hood, suit, or a mouthpiece respirator with nose clamp.

BB.     Self-contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA):  An atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the breathing air source is designed to be carried by the user.

CC.     Service Life:  The period of time that a respirator, filter or sorbent, or other respiratory equipment provides adequate protection to the wearer.

DD.     Supplied-Air Respirator (SAR) or Airline Respirator:  An atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the source of breathing air is not designed to be carried by the user.

EE.     Tight-Fitting Facepiece:  A respiratory inlet covering that forms a complete seal with the face.

FF.     User Seal Check:  An action conducted by the respirator user to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face.

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