Combustible Dust

Control of Combustible Dust

“DOL/OSHA  RIN: 1218-AC41  Publication ID: Spring 2013

Title: Combustible Dust

OSHA has commenced rulemaking to develop a combustible dust standard for general industry. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) completed a study of combustible dust hazards in late 2006, which identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers and injured another 718. Based on these findings, the CSB recommended the Agency pursue a rulemaking on this issue. OSHA has previously addressed aspects of this risk. For example, on July 31, 2005, OSHA published the Safety and Health Information Bulletin, “Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions.” Additionally, OSHA implemented a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) March 11, 2008. However, the Agency does not have a comprehensive standard that addresses combustible dust hazards. OSHA will use the information gathered from the NEP to assist in the development of this rule.”   Source: OSHA –

OSHA is currently enforcing dust control by the General Duty Clause and consensus standards.  For a General Duty Citation the following guidance is followed:

Evaluation of Potential 5(a)(1) situations:

Employer failed to keep workplace free of hazards to which employees of that employer were exposed.

  • Must involve a serious hazard and employee exposure;
  • Does not specify a particular abatement method – only that the employer keeps the workplace free of serious hazards by any feasible and effective means;
  • The hazard must be reasonably foreseeable.

The hazard was recognized:

  •  Industry recognition;
  • Employer recognition;
  • Common-sense recognition.

The hazard caused or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Feasible means to correct the hazard were available.

OSHA also has a compliance directive, CPL 03-00-008 – Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (Reissued) is the basis for enforcement.

Appendix D-2 in this CPL lists industries that may have Potential for Combustible Dust Explosions/Fires and this includes sewerage treatment facilities.

The National Fire Protection Association has published NFPA 654 – Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids 2006 Edition that contains procedures for minimizing the risk of a combustible dust explosion. Much of the standard deals with structural or construction issues, but there are some that fall under safety and health. These are procedures and policies that employers can develop to protect workers in sites where the possibility of dust accumulation may present a risk of combustion.

  • General Requirements – Fire and explosion safety provisions shall be based on a process hazard analysis of the facility, the process and the associated fire and explosion hazards.
  • Performance-Based Design options consist of Occupant life Safety and Mitigation of fire spread and explosions through building design and housekeeping and inventory storage..
  • Fugitive dust control regular cleaning frequencies shall be established for walls, floors and horizontal surfaces such as equipment, ducts, pipes, hoods, ledges, beams and above suspended ceilings and other concealed surfaces, to minimize dust accumulations within operating areas of the facility. Vigorous sweeping or blowing down with steam or compressed air shall be permitted only under limited and controlled circumstances.
  • In areas containing a combustible dust hazard only industrial trucks listed or approved for the electrical classification of the area, as determined by Section 6.6, shall be used in accordance with NFPA 505, Fire Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks Including Type Designations, Areas of Use, Conversions, Maintenance and Operations.
  • Personnel shall be trained to use portable fire extinguishers in a manner that minimizes the generation of dust clouds during discharge.

Hazard Assessment – 29 CFR 1910.132

Personal Protective Equipment

The OSHA/PEOSHA safety and health standards which regulate the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) include:

  • 1910.94, Ventilation;
  • 1910.95, Occupational noise exposure;
  • 1910.120, Hazardous waste operations and emergency response;
  • 1910.132, General requirements (Personal protective equipment);
  • 1910.133, Eye and face protection;
  • 1910.134, Respiratory protection;
  • 1910.135, Head protection;
  • 1910.136, Foot protection;
  • 1910.137, Electrical protective devices;
  • 1910.138, Hand protection;
  • 1910 Subpart I – Appendix A, References for further information (Non-mandatory);
  • 1910 Subpart I – Appendix B, Non-mandatory compliance guidelines for hazard assessment and personal protective equipment selection;
  • 1910.146, Permit-required confined spaces;
  • 1910.252, General requirements (Welding, cutting, and brazing);
  • 1910 Subpart Z, Toxic and hazardous substances.

29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1) states that the employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment. If such hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer shall:

  • Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment (1910.132(d)(1)(i));
  • Communicate selection decisions to each affected employee (1910.132(d)(1)(ii)); and,
  • Select PPE that properly fits each affected employee (1910.132(d)(1)(iii)).

Note: Non-mandatory Appendix B contains an example of procedures that would comply with the requirement for a hazard assessment. This Appendix is reprinted below.

1910.132(d)(2) requires that the employer shall verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the document as a certification of hazard assessment.

Seasonal work, such as the use of lawn mowers must be included in the survey.

1910 Subpart 1 Appendix B

This Appendix is intended to provide compliance assistance for employers and employees in implementing requirements for a hazard assessment and the selection of personal protective equipment.

  • Controlling hazards. PPE devices alone should not be relied on to provide protection against hazards, but should be used in conjunction with guards, engineering controls, and sound manufacturing practices.
  • Assessment and selection. It is necessary to consider certain general guidelines for assessing the foot, head, eye and face, and hand hazard situations that exist in an occupational or educational operation or process, and to match the protective devices to the particular hazard. It should be the responsibility of the safety officer to exercise common sense and appropriate expertise to accomplish these tasks.
  • Assessment guidelines. In order to assess the need for PPE the following steps should be taken:
    • Survey. Conduct a walk-through survey of the areas in question. The purpose of the survey is to identify sources of hazards to workers and co-workers. Consideration should be given to the basic hazard categories:
      • Impact;
      • Penetration;
      • Compression (roll-over);
      • Chemical;
      • Heat;
      • Harmful dust;
      • Light (optical) radiation.
    • Sources. During the walk-through survey the safety officer should observe: (a) sources of motion; i.e., machinery or processes where any movement of tools, machine elements or particles could exist, or movement of personnel that could result in collision with stationary objects; (b) sources of high temperatures that could result in burns, eye injury or ignition of protective equipment, etc.; (c) types of chemical exposures; (d) sources of harmful dust; (e) sources of light radiation, i.e., welding, brazing, cutting, furnaces, heat treating, high intensity lights, etc.; (f) sources of falling objects or potential for dropping objects; (g) sources of sharp objects which might pierce the feet or cut the hands; (h) sources of rolling or pinching objects which could crush the feet; (i) layout of workplace and location of co-workers; and (j) any electrical hazards. In addition, injury/accident data should be reviewed to help identify problem areas.
    • Organize data. Following the walk-through survey, it is necessary to organize the data and information for use in the assessment of hazards. The objective is to prepare for an analysis of the hazards in the environment to enable proper selection of protective equipment.
    • Analyze data. Having gathered and organized data on a workplace, an estimate of the potential for injuries should be made. Each of the basic hazards (paragraph 3.a.) should be reviewed and a determination made as to the type, level of risk, and seriousness of potential injury from each of the hazards found in the area. The possibility of exposure to several hazards simultaneously should be considered.
  • Selection guidelines. After completion of the procedures in paragraph 3, the general procedure for selection of protective equipment is to: a) Become familiar with the potential hazards and the type of protective equipment that is available, and what it can do; i.e., splash protection, impact protection, etc.; b) compare the hazards associated with the environment; i.e., impact velocities, masses, projectile shape, radiation intensities, with the capabilities of the available protective equipment; c) select the protective equipment which ensures a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards; and d) fit the user with the protective device and give instructions on care and use of the PPE. It is very important that end users be made aware of all warning labels for and limitations of their PPE.
  • Fitting the device. Careful consideration must be given to comfort and fit. PPE that fits poorly will not afford the necessary protection. Continued wearing of the device is more likely if it fits the wearer comfortably. Protective devices are generally available in a variety of sizes. Care should be taken to ensure that the right size is selected.
  • Devices with adjustable features. Adjustments should be made on an individual basis for a comfortable fit that will maintain the protective device in the proper position. Particular care should be taken in fitting devices for eye protection against dust and chemical splash to ensure that the devices are sealed to the face. In addition, proper fitting of helmets is important to ensure that it will not fall off during work operations. In some cases a chin strap may be necessary to keep the helmet on an employee’s head. (Chin straps should break at a reasonably low force, however, so as to prevent a strangulation hazard). Where manufacturer’s instructions are available, they should be followed carefully.
  • Reassessment of hazards. It is the responsibility of the safety officer to reassess the workplace hazard situation as necessary, by identifying and evaluating new equipment and processes, reviewing accident records, and reevaluating the suitability of previously selected PPE.
  • Selection chart guidelines for eye and face protection. Some occupations (not a complete list) for which eye protection should be routinely considered are: carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics and repairers, millwrights, plumbers and pipe fitters, sheet metal workers and tinsmiths, assemblers, sanders, grinding machine operators, lathe and milling machine operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, chemical process operators and handlers, and timber cutting and logging workers. The following chart provides general guidance for the proper selection of eye and face protection to protect against hazards associated with the listed hazard “source” operations.Eye and Face Protection Selection Chart
    Source Assessment of Hazard Protection
    IMPACT — Chipping, grinding machining, masonry work, woodworking, sawing, drilling, chiseling, powered fastening, riveting, and sanding Flying fragments, objects, large chips, particles sand, dirt, etc Spectacles with side protection, goggles, face shields. See notes (1), (3), (5), (6), (10). For severe exposure, use faceshield.
    HEAT — Furnace operations, pouring, casting, hot dipping, and welding Hot sparks Faceshields, goggles, spectacles with side protection. For severe exposure use faceshield. See notes (1), (2), (3).
    Splash from molten metals Faceshields worn over goggles. See notes (1), (2), (3).
    High temperature exposure Screen face shields, reflective face shields. See notes (1), (2), (3).
    CHEMICALS — Acid and chemicals handling, degreasing plating Splash Goggles, eyecup and cover types. For severe exposure, use face shield. See notes (3), (11).
    Irritating mists Special-purpose goggles.
    DUST — Woodworking, buffing, general dusty conditions Nuisance dust Goggles, eyecup and cover types. See note (8).
    LIGHT and/or RADIATION —
    Welding: Electric arc Optical radiation Welding helmets or welding shields. Typical shades: 10-14. See notes (9), (12)
    Welding: Gas Optical radiation Welding goggles or welding face shield. Typical shades: gas welding 4-8, cutting 3-6, brazing 3-4. See note (9)
    Cutting, Torch brazing,
    Torch soldering
    Optical radiation Spectacles or welding face-shield. Typical shades, 1.5-3. See notes (3), (9)
    Glare Poor vision Spectacles with shaded or special-purpose lenses, as suitable. See notes (9), (10).

    Notes to Eye and Face Protection Selection Chart:

    • Care should be taken to recognize the possibility of multiple and simultaneous exposure to a variety of hazards. Adequate protection against the highest level of each of the hazards should be provided. Protective devices do not provide unlimited protection.
    • Operations involving heat may also involve light radiation. As required by the standard, protection from both hazards must be provided.
    • Faceshields should only be worn over primary eye protection (spectacles or goggles).
    • As required by the standard, filter lenses must meet the requirements for shade designations in 1910.133(a)(5). Tinted and shaded lenses are not filter lenses unless they are marked or identified as such.
    • As required by the standard, persons whose vision requires the use of prescription (Rx) lenses must wear either protective devices fitted with prescription (Rx) lenses or protective devices designed to be worn over regular prescription (Rx) eyewear.
    • Wearers of contact lenses must also wear appropriate eye and face protection devices in a hazardous environment. It should be recognized that dusty and/or chemical environments may represent an additional hazard to contact lens wearers.
    • Caution should be exercised in the use of metal frame protective devices in electrical hazard areas.
    • Atmospheric conditions and the restricted ventilation of the protector can cause lenses to fog. Frequent cleansing may be necessary.
    • Welding helmets or faceshields should be used only over primary eye protection (spectacles or goggles).
    • Non-sideshield spectacles are available for frontal protection only, but are not acceptable eye protection for the sources and operations listed for “impact.”
    • Ventilation should be adequate, but well protected from splash entry. Eye and face protection should be designed and used so that it provides both adequate ventilation and protects the wearer from splash entry.
    • Protection from light radiation is directly related to filter lens density. See note (4) . Select the darkest shade that allows task performance.
  • Selection guidelines for head protection. All head protection (helmets) is designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. Head protection is also available which provides protection from electric shock and burn. When selecting head protection, knowledge of potential electrical hazards is important. Class A helmets, in addition to impact and penetration resistance, provide electrical protection from low-voltage conductors (they are proof tested to 2,200 volts). Class B helmets, in addition to impact and penetration resistance, provide electrical protection from high-voltage conductors (they are proof tested to 20,000 volts). Class C helmets provide impact and penetration resistance (they are usually made of aluminum which conducts electricity), and should not be used around electrical hazards.Where falling object hazards are present, helmets must be worn. Some examples include: working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall; working around or under conveyor belts which are carrying parts or materials; working below machinery or processes which might cause material or objects to fall; and working on exposed energized conductors.

    Some examples of occupations for which head protection should be routinely considered are: carpenters, electricians, linemen, mechanics and repairers, plumbers and pipe fitters, assemblers, packers, wrappers, sawyers, welders, laborers, freight handlers, timber cutting and logging, stock handlers, and warehouse laborers.

    Beginning with the ANSI Z89.1-1997 standard, ANSI updated the classification system for protective helmets. Prior revisions used type classifications to distinguish between caps and full brimmed hats. Beginning in 1997, Type I designated helmets designed to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow only to the top of the head, while Type II designated helmets designed to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top or sides of the head. Accordingly, if a hazard assessment indicates that lateral impact to the head is foreseeable, employers must select Type II helmets for their employees. To improve comprehension and usefulness, the 1997 revision also redesignated the electrical-protective classifications for helmets as follows: “Class G — General”; helmets designed to reduce the danger of contact with low-voltage conductors; “Class E — Electrical”; helmets designed to reduce the danger of contact with conductors at higher voltage levels; and “Class C — Conductive”; helmets that provide no protection against contact with electrical hazards.

  • Selection guidelines for foot protection. Safety shoes and boots which meet the ANSI Z41-1991 Standard provide both impact and compression protection. Where necessary, safety shoes can be obtained which provide puncture protection. In some work situations, metatarsal protection should be provided, and in other special situations electrical conductive or insulating safety shoes would be appropriate.Safety shoes or boots with impact protection would be required for carrying or handling materials such as packages, objects, parts or heavy tools, which could be dropped; and, for other activities where objects might fall onto the feet. Safety shoes or boots with compression protection would be required for work activities involving skid trucks (manual material handling carts) around bulk rolls (such as paper rolls) and around heavy pipes, all of which could potentially roll over an employee’s feet. Safety shoes or boots with puncture protection would be required where sharp objects such as nails, wire, tacks, screws, large staples, scrap metal etc., could be stepped on by employees causing a foot injury.

    Some occupations (not a complete list) for which foot protection should be routinely considered are: shipping and receiving clerks, stock clerks, carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics and repairers, plumbers and pipe fitters, structural metal workers, assemblers, drywall installers and lathers, packers, wrappers, craters, punch and stamping press operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, freight handlers, gardeners and grounds-keepers, timber cutting and logging workers, stock handlers and warehouse laborers.

  • Selection guidelines for hand protection. Gloves are often relied upon to prevent cuts, abrasions, burns, and skin contact with chemicals that are capable of causing local or systemic effects following dermal exposure. OSHA is unaware of any gloves that provide protection against all potential hand hazards, and commonly available glove materials provide only limited protection against many chemicals. Therefore, it is important to select the most appropriate glove for a particular application and to determine how long it can be worn, and whether it can be reused.It is also important to know the performance characteristics of gloves relative to the specific hazard anticipated; e.g., chemical hazards, cut hazards, flame hazards, etc. These performance characteristics should be assessed by using standard test procedures. Before purchasing gloves, the employer should request documentation from the manufacturer that the gloves meet the appropriate test standard(s) for the hazard(s) anticipated. Other factors to be considered for glove selection in general include:
    • As long as the performance characteristics are acceptable, in certain circumstances, it may be more cost effective to regularly change cheaper gloves than to reuse more expensive types; and,
    • The work activities of the employee should be studied to determine the degree of dexterity required, the duration, frequency, and degree of exposure of the hazard, and the physical stresses that will be applied.

    With respect to selection of gloves for protection against chemical hazards:

    • The toxic properties of the chemical(s) must be determined; in particular, the ability of the chemical to cause local effects on the skin and/or to pass through the skin and cause systemic effects;
    • Generally, any “chemical resistant” glove can be used for dry powders;
    • For mixtures and formulated products (unless specific test data are available), a glove should be selected on the basis of the chemical component with the shortest breakthrough time, since it is possible for solvents to carry active ingredients through polymeric materials; and,
    • Employees must be able to remove the gloves in such a manner as to prevent skin contamination.
  • Cleaning and maintenance. It is important that all PPE be kept clean and properly maintained. Cleaning is particularly important for eye and face protection where dirty or fogged lenses could impair vision.For the purposes of compliance with 1910.132 (a) and (b), PPE should be inspected, cleaned, and maintained at regular intervals so that the PPE provides the requisite protection.

    It is also important to ensure that contaminated PPE which cannot be decontaminated is disposed of in a manner that protects employees from exposure to hazards.

Source: OSHA [59 FR 16362, April 6, 1994; 74 FR 46357, Sept. 9, 2009]

Bloodborne Pathogens – 29 CFR 1910.1030

Hepatitis B Vaccine Information

The OHSA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) states that Hepatitis B vaccination shall be made available after the employee has received the training required in paragraph 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(I) and within 10 working days of initial assignment to all employees who have occupational exposure unless the employee has previously received the complete hepatitis B vaccination series, antibody testing has revealed that the employee is immune, or the vaccine is contraindicated for medical reasons.

29 CFR 1910.1030.1030(f)(2)(ii) states that the employer shall not make participation in a prescreening program a prerequisite for receiving hepatitis B vaccination.

29 CFR 1910.1030.1030(f)(2)(iii) states that if the employee initially declines hepatitis B vaccination but at a later date while still covered under the standard decides to accept the vaccination, the employer shall make hepatitis B vaccination available at that time.

29 CFR 1910.1030.1030(f)(2)(iv) requires that the employer shall assure that employees who decline to accept hepatitis B vaccination offered by the employer sign the statement in Appendix A of the standard.

29 CFR 1910.1030.1030(f)(2)(v) states that if a routine booster dose(s) of hepatitis B vaccine is recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service at a future date, such booster dose(s) shall be made available in accordance with section (f)(1)(ii).


Are booster doses of Hepatitis B vaccine necessary?

According to the CDC, it depends. A “booster” dose of Hepatitis B vaccine is a dose that increases or extends the effectiveness of the vaccine. Booster doses are recommended only for hemodialysis patients and can be considered for other people with a weakened immune system. Booster doses are not recommended for persons with normal immune status who have been fully vaccinated.


Major Requirements of Respirator Use – 29 CFR 1910.134

OSHA Office of Training and Education
Rev. December 2006

This document discusses the major requirements of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134.

No attempt has been made to discuss every detail of the standard. Readers are encouraged to consult OSHA’s Respiratory Protection web page for the complete text.


  • This standard applies to General Industry (Part 1910), Shipyards (Part 1915), Marine Terminals (Part 1917), Longshoring (Part 1918), and Construction (Part 1926).

(a) Permissible Practice

  • Paragraph (a)(1) establishes OSHA’s hierarchy of controls by requiring the use of feasible engineering controls as the primary means to control air contaminants. Respirators are required when “effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted.”
  • Paragraph (a)(2) requires employers to provide employees with respirators that are “applicable and suitable” for the purpose intended “when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the employee.”

(b) Definitions

This paragraph contains definitions of important terms used in the regulatory text.

(c) Respiratory Protection Program

  • Must designate a qualified program administrator to oversee the program.
  • Must provide respirators, training, and medical evaluations at no cost to the employee.
  • OSHA has prepared a Small Entity Compliance Guide that contains criteria for selection of a program administrator and a sample program.

29 CFR 1910.134(c)

(d) Selection of Respirators

  • Must select a respirator certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which must be used in compliance with the conditions of its certification.
  • Must identify and evaluate the respiratory hazards in the workplace, including a reasonable estimate of employee exposures and identification of the contaminant’s chemical state and physical form.
  • Where exposure cannot be identified or reasonably estimated, the atmosphere shall be considered immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH).
  • Respirators for IDLH atmospheres:
    • Approved respirators:
      • full facepiece pressure demand self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) certified by NIOSH for a minimum service life of thirty minutes, or
      • combination full facepiece pressure demand supplied-air respirator (SAR) with auxiliary self-contained air supply.
    • All oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5% O2 by volume) shall be considered IDLH.

      Exception: If the employer can demonstrate that, under all foreseeable conditions, oxygen levels in the work area can be maintained within the ranges specified in Table II (i.e., between 19.5% and a lower value that corresponds to an altitude-adjusted oxygen partial pressure equivalent to 16% oxygen at sea level), then any atmosphere-supplying respirator may be used.

  • Respirators for non-IDLH atmospheres:
    • Employers must use the assigned protection factors (APFs) listed in Table 1 to select a respirator that meets or exceeds the required level of employee protection.
      • When using a combination respirator (e.g., airline respirators with an air-purifying filter), employers must ensure that the assigned protection factor is appropriate to the mode of operation in which the respirator is being used.
    • Must select a respirator for employee use that maintains the employee’s exposure to the hazardous substance, when measured outside the respirator, at or below the maximum use concentration (MUC).
      • Must not apply MUCs to conditions that are IDLH; instead must use respirators listed for IDLH conditions in paragraph (d)(2) of this standard.
      • When the calculated MUC exceeds the IDLH level or the performance limits of the cartridge or canister, then employers must set the maximum MUC at that lower limit.
      • The respirator selected shall be appropriate for the chemical state and physical form of the contaminant.
    • For protection against gases and vapors, the employer shall provide:
      • an atmosphere-supplying respirator, or
      • an air-purifying respirator, provided that:
        • the respirator is equipped with an end-of-service-life indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the contaminant; or
        • if there is no ESLI appropriate for conditions of the employer’s workplace, the employer implements a change schedule for canisters and cartridges that will ensure that they are changed before the end of their service life and describes in the respirator program the information and data relied upon and basis for the change schedule and reliance on the data.
    • For protection against particulates, the employer shall provide:
      • an atmosphere-supplying respirator; or
      • an air-purifying respirator equipped with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters certified by NIOSH under 30 CFR Part 11 or with filters certified for particulates under 42 CFR Part 84; or
      • an air-purifying respirator equipped with any filter certified for particulates by NIOSH for contaminants consisting primarily of particles with mass median aerodynamic diameters of at least 2 micrometers.

(e) Medical Evaluation

  • Must provide a medical evaluation to determine employee’s ability to use a respirator, before fit testing and use.
  • Must identify a physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) to perform medical evaluations using a medical questionnaire or an initial medical examination that obtains the same information as the medical questionnaire (information required is contained in mandatory Appendix C).
  • Must obtain a written recommendation regarding the employee’s ability to use the respirator from the PLHCP.
  • Additional medical evaluations are required under certain circumstances, e.g.:
    • employee reports medical signs or symptoms related to ability to use respirator;
    • PLHCP, program administrator, or supervisor recommends reevaluation;
    • information from the respirator program, including observations made during fit testing and program evaluation, indicates a need; or
    • change occurs in workplace conditions that may substantially increase the physiological burden on an employee.
    • Annual review of medical status is not required.

(f) Fit Testing

  • All employees using a negative or positive pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirator must pass an appropriate qualitative fit test (QLFT) or quantitative fit test (QNFT).
  • Fit testing is required prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter. An additional fit test is required whenever the employee reports, or the employer or PLHCP makes visual observations of, changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g., facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight).
  • The fit test shall be administered using an OSHA-accepted QLFT or QNFT protocol, as contained in mandatory Appendix A.
    • QLFT Protocols:
      • Isoamyl acetate
      • Saccharin
      • Bitrex
      • Irritant smoke
    • QNFT Protocols:
      • Generated Aerosol (corn oil, salt, DEHP)
      • Condensation Nuclei Counter (PortaCount)
      • Controlled Negative Pressure (Dynatech FitTester 3000)
      • Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP) REDON
    • QLFT may only be used to fit test negative pressure air-purifying respirators (APRs) that must achieve a fit factor of 100 or less.
    • If the fit factor determined through QNFT is ≥100 for tight-fitting half facepieces, or ≥500 for tight-fitting full facepieces, the QNFT has been passed with that respirator.

Note: If a particular OSHA standard (e.g., 29 CFR 1910.1001 Asbestos) requires the use of a full facepiece APR capable of providing protection in concentrations up to 50 times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), this respirator must be QNFT. This is because a protection factor of 50 (50 X PEL) multiplied by a standard safety factor of 10 is equivalent to a fit factor of 500.

The safety factor of 10 is used because protection factors in the workplace tend to be much lower than the fit factors achieved during fit testing. The use of a safety factor is a standard practice supported by most experts to offset this limitation. This is discussed in the record at 63 FR 1225.

(g) Use of Respirators

  • Tight-fitting respirators shall not be worn by employees who have facial hair or any condition that interferes with the face-to-facepiece seal or valve function.
  • Personal protective equipment shall be worn in such a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user.
  • Employees shall perform a user seal check each time they put on a tight-fitting respirator using the procedures in mandatory Appendix B-1 or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures.
  • Procedures for respirator use in IDLH atmospheres are stated. In addition to these requirements, interior structural firefighting requires the use of SCBAs and a protective practice known as “2-in/2-out” — at least two employees must enter and remain in visual or voice contact with one another at all times, and at least two employees must be located outside. (Note that this is not meant to preclude firefighters from performing emergency rescue activities before an entire team has assembled.)

(h) Maintenance and Care of Respirators

Must clean and disinfect respirators using the procedures in Appendix B-2, or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures at the following intervals:

  • as often as necessary to maintain a sanitary condition for exclusive use respirators,
  • before being worn by different individuals when issued to more than one employee, and
  • after each use for emergency use respirators and those used in fit testing and training.

(i) Breathing Air Quality and Use

Compressed breathing air shall meet the requirements for Type 1-Grade D breathing air as described in ANSI/CGA Commodity Specification for Air, G-7.1-1989.

(j) Identification of Filters, Cartridges, and Canisters

  • All filters, cartridges, and canisters used in the workplace must be labeled and color coded with the NIOSH approval label.
  • The label must not be removed and must remain legible.

(k) Training and Information

  • Must provide effective training to respirator users, including:
    • why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, use, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator
    • limitations and capabilities of the respirator
    • use in emergency situations
    • how to inspect, put on and remove, use and check the seals
    • procedures for maintenance and storage
    • recognition of medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent effective use
    • general requirements of this standard
  • Training required prior to initial use, unless acceptable training has been provided by another employer within the past 12 months.
  • Retraining required annually and when:
    • workplace conditions change,
    • new types of respirator are used, or
    • inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use indicates need.
  • The basic advisory information in Appendix D shall be provided to employees who wear respirators when their use is not required.

(l) Program Evaluation

Employer must conduct evaluations of the workplace as necessary to ensure proper implementation of the program and consult with employees to ensure proper use.

(m) Recordkeeping

  • Records of medical evaluations must be retained and made available per 29 CFR 1910.1020.
  • A record of fit tests must be established and retained until the next fit test.
  • A written copy of the current program must be retained.

Source: OSHA –

Voluntary Use of Respirators – 29 CFR 1910.134

OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.132 (d)(1) requires that employers perform a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) assessment to determine whether hazards are present, or likely to be present, that necessitate the use of personal protective equipment. In addition, 29 CFR 1910.132 (d)(2) requires a written certification of the assessment. This Hazard Assessment can be used to decide if respiratory protection is needed or should be required by employers.

If respirators are not needed or not required by the employer and employees still wish to use respirators on a voluntary basis OSHA has some requirements that employers must meet before allowing voluntary use.

In paragraph 1910.134(c)(2)(i) of the Respiratory Protection Standard OSHA states that an employer may provide respirators at the request of employees or permit employees to use their own respirators, if the employer determines that such respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. To do this, the employer must implement certain elements of a written respiratory protection program necessary to ensure that any worker using a respirator voluntarily is medically able to use that respirator. In addition, the employer must ensure that the respirator is properly cleaned, stored and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to workers.

However, employers do not have to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program when workers only use filtering facepiece respirators voluntarily. (Source:

If the employer determines that any voluntary respirator use is permissible, the employer shall provide the respirator users with the information contained in Appendix D to the standard (“Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard”). (See below for the text of Appendix D.)

In addition, according to 1910.134(c)(2)(ii), the employer must establish and implement those elements of a written respiratory protection program necessary to ensure that any employee using a respirator voluntarily is medically able to use that respirator, and that the respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to the user.

There is an exception: Employers are not required to include in a written respiratory protection program those employees whose only use of respirators involves the voluntary use of filtering facepieces (dust masks).

Normally, respirators that are voluntarily used by employees will be filtering facepieces (dust masks). NIOSH-approved respirators are strongly recommended, but they are not required for voluntary use. This voluntary use of dust masks alone does not require the employer to have a written program. For filtering facepiece respirator use, the employer needs only ensure that dust masks are not dirty or contaminated, that their use does not interfere with the employee’s ability to work safely, and that a copy of Appendix D is provided to each voluntary wearer. Merely posting Appendix D is not considered adequate.

Use of elastomeric or supplied-air respirators, even when voluntary on the part of the employee, will require the employer to include all elements in a written program that will ensure use of these respirators does not create a hazard.

It is the intent of the standard that the employer would not be required to incur any costs associated with voluntary use of filtering facepieces other than providing a copy of Appendix D to each user. If employers allow the voluntary use of respirators other than filtering facepieces, the costs associated with ensuring the respirator itself does not create a hazard, such as medical evaluations and maintenance must be provided at no cost to the employee.

Appendix D to Sec. 1910.134 (Mandatory)

Information for Employees

Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard

Respirators are an effective method of protection against designated hazards when properly selected and worn. Respirator use is encouraged, even when exposures are below the exposure limit, to provide an additional level of comfort and protection for workers. However, if a respirator is used improperly or not kept clean, the respirator itself can become a hazard to the worker. Sometimes, workers may wear respirators to avoid exposures to hazards, even if the amount of hazardous substance does not exceed the limits set by OSHA standards. If your employer provides respirators for your voluntary use, or if you provide your own respirator, you need to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard.

You should do the following:

1. Read and heed all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care, and warnings regarding the respirators limitations.

2. Choose respirators certified for use to protect against the contaminant of concern. NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, certifies respirators. A label or statement of certification should appear on the respirator or respirator packaging. It will tell you what the respirator is designed for and how much it will protect you.

3. Do not wear your respirator into atmospheres containing contaminants for which your respirator is not designed to protect against. For example, a respirator designed to filter dust particles will not protect you against gases, vapors, or very small solid particles of fumes or smoke.

4. Keep track of your respirator so that you do not mistakenly use someone else’s respirator.

[63 FR 1152, Jan. 8, 1998; 63 FR 20098, April 23, 1998]

Source: OSHA –