Respiratory Protection


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 RIT use engineering and/or administrative controls to prevent air contamination in the workplace and reduce exposure below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) whenever possible. When these controls are not possible, RIT is required to provide an appropriate type of respirator. Contact the RIT Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Department to conduct a workplace exposure assessment.

Applicable Regulation

29 CFR 1910.134

Management Requirements

Before employees can wear a respirator, they must be placed in RIT’s Respiratory Protection Program. This may include one or more of the following requirements:

  • Complete an appropriate medical questionnaire;
  • Have a medical evaluation;
  • Pass respiratory fit testing; and/or
  • Undergo respirator use training.

Respirator use itself may create a hazard to the user if they will not physically able to wear such a device. The first step to ensuring each person's safety requires a medical evaluation questionnaire to be filled out. If the person is only going to wear a N, R, and/or P series type respirator (disposable filtering facepiece respirators), the questionnaire entitled “Respirator Medical Questionnaire Form for N, R, P Series Respirators” needs to be completed. For all other types of respirators, the other available questionnaire needs to be completed. (Both forms are available on the right side of this page under the Respiratory Protection Medical Questionnaire link.) If you are unsure which form to fill out, contact the EH&S Department. Questionnaires will be reviewed by a RIT-assigned physician or a licensed health care professional. If approved to wear a respirator, EH&S will conduct the appropriate type of respirator fit testing and assign a respirator and/or cartridge type to be used.

Respirator users must clean, store and maintain their respirator so that its use does not present a health hazard in itself.

Fit Testing

Fit testing is a pre-requisite for wearing a respirator in order to ensure that a proper seal exists between the respirator and the user's face. This is deemed necessary for mandatory uses of filtering facepiece respirators and for all other uses of other types of respirators (i.e. elastomeric-half and full faced) Facial hair that interferes with the seal or the respirator’s valve function will have to be removed prior to being fit tested and use of a respirator.

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 which is found on the right side of this webpage.

The voluntary use of all other respirators will require the user to be medically cleared to use a respirator; in addition to reviewing and signing off on the voluntary use form.

Contract Employees

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 require respiratory protection. Contractors shall provide their own respirators/cartridges.

Training Requirements

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 bottom 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, type of respirator and/or whenever training deficiencies are discovered.

Contact the RIT Environmental Health and Safety Department with any questions at (585) 475-7092.