We have had many questions regarding the importance of performing Lung Function Tests as part of a Respirator Fit Program. The following are excerpts from the Health and Safety Act and NIOSH. This should clarify any doubts about the how to properly perform Respirator Fit Testing.
Occupational Health & Safety Act 1910.134 as mandated by the Ministry of Labour outlines the requirements for a respiratory protection program as follows:
"…When effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted, appropriate respirators shall be used pursuant to this section…
A respirator shall be provided to each employee when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of such employee. The employer shall provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended. The employer shall be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a respiratory protection program, which shall include the requirements outlined in paragraph (c) of this section. The program shall cover each employee required by this section to use a respirator.
Respiratory protection program. This paragraph requires the employer to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures and elements for required respirator use. The program must be administered by a suitably trained program administrator. In addition, certain program elements may be required for voluntary use to prevent potential hazards associated with the use of the respirator.
In any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer, the employer shall establish and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures. The program shall be updated as necessary to reflect those changes in workplace conditions that affect respirator use. The employer shall include in the program the following provisions of this section, as applicable:
- Procedures for selecting respirators for use in the workplace
- Medical evaluations of employees required to use respirators
- Fit testing procedures for tight-fitting respirators
- Procedures for proper use of respirators in routine and reasonably foreseeable emergency situations
- Procedures and schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, discarding, and otherwise maintaining respirators
- Procedures to ensure adequate air quality, quantity, and flow of breathing air for atmosphere-supplying respirators
- Training of employees in the respiratory hazards to which they are potentially exposed during routine and emergency situations
- Training of employees in the proper use of respirators, including putting on and removing them, any limitations on their use, and their maintenance
- Procedures for regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the program.
Medical evaluation. Using a respirator may place a physiological burden on employees that varies with the type of respirator worn, the job and workplace conditions in which the respirator is used, and the medical status of the employee. Accordingly, this paragraph specifies the minimum requirements for medical evaluation that employers must implement to determine the employee's ability to use a respirator.
The employer shall provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee's ability to use a respirator, before the employee is fit tested or required to use the respirator in the workplace. The employer may discontinue an employee's medical evaluations when the employee is no longer required to use a respirator."
NIOSH Regulation 42 CFR 84 is required to meet the OSHA requirements as above and states:
"A medical evaluation is an element of the written respiratory protection program that is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (29 CFR 1910.134). The standard requires that if you are required to wear a respirator due to a potential hazard in your work environment, you must be fit-tested, trained, and medically evaluated prior to having a respirator issued. "