Respiratory Protection

Written Program

For any employment or tasks that REQUIRE respiratory protection, either due to known/possible exposures, regulations, or internal policy, the department in which the affected employee works must have a written Respiratory Protection Program.

A template is available. The specific written program must reflect the conditions and realities of operations within the department that requires the respirator use. This program must be reviewed and (if necessary) updated on an annual basis. Employees must also be trained or instructed on the contents of the department-specific Respiratory Protection Program at least annually.

Voluntary Use of Disposable Filtering Facepiece (e.g. N-95) Respirators

If a department does not require the use of respirators due to the absence of known or probable respiratory hazards, but an employee wishes to wear a disposable dust-mist-fume respirator such as an N-95 filtering facepiece, this can be permitted at the discretion of the supervisor. The employee must read and sign a copy of Appendix D to the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard.

Voluntary use of filtering facepiece respirators does not require completion of a written Respiratory Protection Program, medical evaluation, or fit testing. However, if the use of filtering facepieces is mandatory, or if the voluntary use is for tight-fitting half-face or full-face respirators, then the full requirements of a written program, medical evaluation, fit testing, and training apply.

Fit Testing

It is essential that respiratory protective equipment be properly fitted to the employee when it is issued. All the care that went into the design and manufacture of a respirator to maximize protection will not protect the wearer if there is an improper match between facepiece and wearer or if the wearer follows improper wearing practices.
There are two considerations with respect to proper fit:

  1. Assuming that there are several brands of a particular type of facepiece available (you should provide several to choose from), which one fits best?
  2. How does the user know when the respirator fits properly?

The answers to the above questions can be determined by the use of a fit test. Quantitative fit tests are conducted by UK Health & Safety after an employee’s initial program enrollment (see below) and annually thereafter.

Even N-95 filtering facepiece respirators require annual fit testing, unless their usage is strictly voluntary. Loose-fitting hood-type Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) do not require fit testing, as they do not form a tight seal around the face/head/neck. PAPRs with tight-fitting elastomeric facepieces require annual fit testing.

Initial Program Enrollment and Medical Evaluation

For employees required to use respiratory protection, and who have never been medically qualified and/or been fit-tested for a respirator:

UK Health and Safety provides fit-testing, training and program development assistance for the use of respiratory protection. Employees who are required to use respiratory protection must be medically qualified prior to being fit-tested for a respirator. Once medically qualified, a fit-test and respiratory protection training will be conducted.
The following procedures outline the steps to be taken to obtain medical qualification, fit-testing, and training.

  1. The employee's supervisor must complete the top section of the Respirator Program Request.
  2. The employee completes the Respirator Medical Questionnaire.
  3. The Respirator Program Request and the Respirator Medical Questionnaire are faxed to UK Healthcare/Employee Health for review by a healthcare professional. 

    Secure Fax: 859-257-9814 

    Employee Health Contact: Leslie Ehrmantraut (859-218-3257) 

    The Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire will be reviewed, and the healthcare professional will either clear the employee to wear a respirator based on the information provided in the questionnaire, or the employee will be contacted to schedule a medical exam. Final clearance to wear a respirator will be indicated by the healthcare professional's signature on the Respirator Request Form. The form should be maintained in the employee’s personnel record, and the Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire should be maintained at UK Healthcare/Employee Health with the employee's medical records.
  4. The respirator request form shall be completed and signed by the healthcare professional before fit testing can be conducted. Please allow 5-7 working days from the submittal date to UK Healthcare/Employee Health before contacting UK Health & Safety at 257-3827 to schedule fit testing.
Fit-testing and training is required to be repeated on annual basis. Initial Respirator Use training is available online and must be repeated at least annually, provided that the employee continues to require respiratory protection for their employment. Training on the department’s specific written Respiratory Protection Program must also be performed at least annually.

Renewal of Enrollment and Medical Evaluation

For employees who have been enrolled in a departmental Respiratory Protection Program for 12 months or longer:

UK Health and Safety provides annual fit-testing, training and program modification assistance for the continuing use of respiratory protection. Employees who are currently enrolled in a departmental Respiratory Protection Program must have their medical qualification renewed prior to being refit-tested for a respirator. Once medically requalified, the annual fit-test and respiratory protection training will be conducted.
The following procedures outline the steps to be taken to obtain medical re qualification, and annual fit-testing, and training.

  1. The employee's supervisor must complete the top section of the Respirator Program Request.
  2. The employee completes the Annual Respirator Medical Questionnaire.
  3. The Respirator Program Request and the Annual Respirator Medical Questionnaire are faxed to UK Healthcare/Employee Health for review by a healthcare professional: 

    Secure Fax: 859-257-9814

    Employee Health Contact: Leslie Ehrmantraut (859-257-3257)
  4. If the reviewing physician determines that further medical evaluation elements are required, the employee's supervisor will be contacted to schedule a medical evaluation for the employee.
  5. The lower half of the Respirator Program Request Form is completed by the physician or licensed health care professional and forwarded to UK Health and Safety at the address indicated on the bottom of the form.
  6. The respirator request form shall be completed and signed by the healthcare professional before fit testing can be conducted. Please allow 5-7 working days from the submittal date to UK Healthcare/Employee Health before contacting UK Health & Safety at 257-3827 to schedule fit testing.

Fit-testing and training is required to be repeated on annual basis. Initial Respirator Use training (available online) must be repeated at least annually, provided that the employee continues to require respiratory protection for their employment. Training on the department’s specific written Respiratory Protection Program must also be performed at least annually.

Contact Information

Please contact Brent Webber, administrator for Respiratory Protection Programs, if you have any questions or need assistance.


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