In order to ensure that employees are protected from airborne contaminants and hazards, RIT has developed a Respiratory Protection Program.
A breathing or respiratory hazard exists when toxic contaminant(s) are present in the air at concentration(s) that could potentially cause harm when inhaled. By wearing the proper type of respirator, you can protect your lungs from breathing hazards. The law requires that, if possible, RIT should use engineering or administrative controls to prevent air contamination at the workplace and reduce exposure below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). However, if these controls are not possible, RIT is required to provide an appropriate type of respirator.
The RIT’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Department should be consulted to conduct an exposure assessment of the workplace. This is needed to determine the proper type of respirator that is to be worn.
Before employees can wear a respirator, they must be placed into RIT’s Respiratory Protection Program. This may include any and/or all of the following requirements:
- Completing a medical questionnaire;
- Having a medical evaluation;
- Passing respiratory fit testing; and
- Undergoing respirator use training.
Respirator use may create a hazard to the user if they are not physically fit to wear one. First you must fill out a medical evaluation questionnaire. If only using an N, R, and/or P series type respirator, fill out the shorter questionnaire form entitled “Respirator Medical Questionnaire Form for N, R, P Series Respirators”. For all other types of respirators the other questionnaire form needs to be completed. Both forms are available on the right side of this page. EH&S will help to determine which is the correct form to complete if unsure.
Questionnaires will be reviewed for approval by a physician/licensed health care professional. If approved to wear a respirator, then respirator fit testing can be conducted.
Fit testing is also a pre-requisite for wearing a respirator in order to ensure that a proper seal exists between the respirator and the users face. Facial hair that interferes with the seal or the respirator’s valve function will have to be removed prior to testing.
Respiratory Protection Program Exemptions
The voluntary use of filter facepiece respirators (N Series, R Series, or P Series) do not require an individual to be placed in the RIT Respiratory Protection Program. However, the user must review and sign off on the “Information for Employees Using Respirators - Voluntary Use” form. It is available on the right side on this webpage. (Information for Employees Using Respirators – Voluntary Use Form)
The voluntary use of all other respirators will require the user to be medically cleared to use a respirator; review and sign off on the “Information for Employees/Students Using Respirators Not Required by the Standard”. The users must ensure that their respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so its use does not present a health hazard in itself.
Contract employees shall ensure they are part of their company’s Respiratory Protection Program. Contractors need to consult with their RIT host prior to entering any areas that requires respiratory protection. Contractors shall provide their own respirators.
All RIT employees who are required to wear respirators will be provided generic respiratory protection training in order to acquire the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for the safe performance of their duties.
Training shall be provided to each affected RIT employee prior to wearing a required respirator.
The training covers:
- Why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator;
- What the limitations and capabilities of respirators are;
- How to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator;
- What the procedures are for maintenance and storage of the respirator;
- How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators; and
- The general OSHA respiratory training requirements.
A link to the “generic” respiratory protection training can be found on the right side of this webpage.
After initial training, annual workplace/respirator specific training is provided to the employees with the help of the RIT EH&S Department.
Retraining is required when there is a change in the workplace or type of respirator; and/or whenever training deficiencies are discovered.
Contact the EH&S Department with any questions at (585) 475-2040.