OSHA considers changes to respiratory protection rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed changes to the Respiratory Protection Standard June 6 that would affect respirator selection and fit testing.

As part of the two amendments, OSHA wants to incorporate a new fit testing procedure to ensure respirators are properly worn. While the current controlled negative pressure rules require eight test exercises and one redonning of the respirator before it is approved, the new proposal requires three different test exercises and two refittings.

Also included in the proposal is the installment of Assigned Protection Factors. APFs will be part of a respiratory protection program to help workers and employees choose the right type of respirator for the job by assigning numbers. The APFs will reflect the level of respiratory protection different respirators will provide workers.

“It’s critical that workers and employers select respirators that will protect users against over-exposures and adverse health effects,” OSHA Administrator John Henshaw said.

According to OSHA, if the recent proposals are accepted, they will prevent approximately 4,000 injuries and illnesses and prevent about 900 deaths annually from cancer and chronic diseases.

OSHA is currently seeking comments on its proposal. Written comments on both proposed rulemakings must be submitted by Sept. 4 and can be faxed (10 pages or fewer) to OSHA at 202-693-1648 or sent electronically at http://ecomments.osha.gov. For more information on the proposals or submitting comments, contact OSHA’s Docket Office at 202-693-2350. A final rule on the proposed amendments is expected after the comment period in early fall.