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Respiratory Protection Overview

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the purpose of using a respirator.
  • Identify the purpose of using a respirator.
  • Identify when an employee should leave a respirator use area, the warning signs of an improperly functioning respirator, and the actions workers should take in an emergency situation.

Available in English

6 Minutes

The goal of this lesson is to teach workers the purpose of respirators and the preparations, maintenance and storage requirements. Workers will also learn when it is permissible to leave a respirator use area, the warning signs that a respirator is not functioning properly, and how respirator emergencies and malfunctions should be handled.

The Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) is usually one of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of workplaces by OSHA.

The quality of the air we breathe, both on and off the job, has major implications for our respiratory health. That’s why some regions in the United States alert local citizens when smog or air pollution reaches an unsafe level.

Certain industrial work environments threaten respiratory health; people who work in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries will be inevitably exposed to respiratory hazards on the job. By performing tasks where irritating dust, chemical fumes, and other airborne contaminants are present in harmful concentrations, or where the percentage of oxygen is insufficient, these workers have to be mindful of the air they are breathing.

An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.

Respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean respirable air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.

Course Outline
  • Respiratory Protection Overview
Regulations
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, Personal protective equipment. OSHA Standard.
  • 1910.134, Respiratory protection
  • 1910.134(c), Respiratory protection program
  • 1910.134(d), Selection of respirators
  • 1910.134(e), Medical evaluation
  • 1910.134(f), Fit-testing
  • 1910.134(g), Use of respirators
  • 1910.134(h), Maintenance and care of respirators
  • 1910.134(i), Breathing air quality and use
  • 1910.134(k), Training and information
  • 1910.134(l), Program evaluation
  • 1910.134(m), Recordkeeping
  • Appendix A, Fit testing procedures (Mandatory)
  • Appendix B-1, User seal check procedures (Mandatory)
  • Appendix B-2, Respirator cleaning procedures (Mandatory)
  • Appendix D, Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard