The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps your health and the health of your site’s employees at the forefront of policy concern, in all situations. You may not typically consider respiratory site risks to your team; for certain worksites these concerns are more risks than at others – afterthoughts instead of priorities. However, maintaining the highest safety standards for your worksite means thinking through all the details – even those that present a lower barometers of risk.
In 1998, OSHA revised its respiratory protection standards for health care workers (HCWs) and environmental managers (EMs). If you have not done so in a while, re-familiarize yourself with the importance of having a written respiratory protection program (RPP) in case of incidents of contaminated air release or oxygen-deficient atmospheric occurrence.
An experienced program administrator must administer the RPP. The RPP must address facility-specific hazards, procedures, and conditions of current respirator use and must be updated on a regular basis to reflect changes in workplace conditions or equipment that might affect respirator use. Although each facility’s RPP may differ depending on that facility’s crew’s specific needs, all must:
- Prohibit the use of tight-fitting respirator facepieces when current conditions may cause facepiece air leakage or respirator valve interference.
- Prohibit individuals with more than one day’s growth of facial hair to operate in environments mandating a tight-fitting respirator.
- Require individuals wearing respirators to remove jewelry, headgear that projects under the seal, corrective glasses, goggles, or other personal protective equipment.
- Mandate that defective respirators with missing, damaged, or visibly deteriorated parts not be used.
Although certain situations require employees to use respirators, HCWs may use them even when no hazard presents itself. Although not recommended, CHEM allows respirators to also be used to ensure peace of mind. However, your site’s authorized program administrator must also include the regulations for types of respirators and their use in your facility’s RPP.