Respiratory Protection

This program describes the procedures, methods and training for the use of respiratory protective equipment by CSUN employees.

I.  Purpose/Scope

  • Purpose:  To establish clear and consistent procedures for the use of respiratory protective devices.
  • Scope: The requirements of this program apply to university employees who may use respiratory  protective devices.

 II.  Definitions

  • Contaminant:  a harmful, irritating, or nuisance material that is foreign to the normal atmosphere.
  • Fit Test:  the use of a protocol to qualitatively or quantitatively evaluate the fit of a respirator on an Individual. (See also Qualitative fit test (QLFT) and Quantitative fit test (QNFT).)
  • Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH):  any atmosphere that poses an immediate hazard to life or produces immediate, irreversible, debilitating effects on health.
  • Oxygen Deficient Atmosphere:  an atmosphere which contains less than 19.5% oxygen.
  • Physician or Other Licensed Health Care Professional (PLHCP):  an individual who is legally permitted scope or practice (i.e., license, registration, or certification) allowing him or her to independently provide, or be delegated the responsibility to provide, some or all of the health care services required.
  • Protection Factor (PF):  the ratio of the ambient airborne concentration of the contaminant to the concentration inside the face-piece.
  • Qualitative Fit Test (QLFT):  a pass/fail fit test to assess the adequacy of respirator fit that relies on the individual's response to the test agent.
  • Quantitative Fit Test (QNFT):  an assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.
  • Respirator:  a device designed to protect the wearer from the inhalation of harmful atmospheres.
  • Sanitation:  the removal of dirt and the inhibiting of the action of agents that causes infection or disease.
  • Supplied-Air Respiration (SAR):  or airline respirator is an atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the source of breathing air is not designed to be carried by the user.
  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA):   an atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the breathing air source is designed to be carried by the user.
  • Tight-Fitting Face-Piece:  a respiratory inlet covering that forms a complete seal with the face.
  • User Seal Check:  an action conducted by the respirator user to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face. 

 III.  Exemptions/Exclusions


 IV.  Responsibilities

    • Employees are ultimately responsible for wearing respiratory protective equipment whenever working in potentially hazardous areas.
    • Employees should utilize respiratory protective equipment in accordance with instructions and training received.
    • Respirators must be inspected prior to every use to ensure proper working condition.
    • Perform a user seal check to ensure that an adequate seal is achieved each time the respirator is put on.
    • Wear only the respirator for which the individual has been fitted and tested.
    • Malfunctioning respirators must be reported immediately to supervisory personnel for repair or replacement.
    • Establish and update the written Respiratory Protection Program.
    • Provide consultation/training to departments according to their specific needs.
    • Conduct hazard assessment surveys in response to departmental requests or as a general survey.
    • Assist departments in developing methods for reducing or controlling airborne contaminants.
    • Recommend respiratory protective devices for applicable departments.
    • Conduct respiratory fit testing.
    • Maintain training records of fit testing and general training activities.
    • Results of the medical evaluation will be maintained by the appropriate Physician or other Licensed Health Care Professional (PLHCP).
    • Responsible for ensuring that all respirator users have received medical approval, training, and fit testing as described in this program prior to the use of respiratory protective equipment.
    • Ensure that appropriate respiratory protective equipment is provided to employees and enforce the use of such devices when required.
    • Conduct periodic inspections of respirators to ensure that devices are kept in good condition and maintained in a sanitary manner. 

 V.  Guidelines/Rules

    • Facial Hair:
      • Facial hair prevents a proper face-to-face piece seal.  A respirator equipped with a face piece must not be worn if facial hair is between the sealing periphery of the face piece and the face, or;
      • if the facial hair interferes with the valve function.  (ANSI 3.5.8, Z88.2-1980)
      • Facial Features:
        • If facial features such as scars, deep skin creases, prominent cheekbones, severe acne, and the lack of teeth or dentures prevent a respirator from sealing properly the person must not be permitted to wear a respirator.
      • Atmospheres Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH)
        • Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) conditions require self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirators (SAR),
        • A minimum of two individuals with approved respiratory equipment must be on the job site and be responsible in maintaining communication, and
        • A stand-by person must be in the least accident risk area and have appropriate rescue equipment.
        • Before anyone enters an IDLH environment, EH&S MUST be notified in order to evaluate the environment and ensure continuous monitoring is conducted.
    • The Medical Questionnaire must be completed by each employee and reviewed by a licensed health care professional BEFORE any use or fit testing of a respirator.
    • Evaluation options may include utilizing the CSUN Student Health Center or a suitable medical contract service. Based on the employee's medical evaluation, the Physician or other Licensed Health Care Professional (PLHCP) will determine whether an individual is physically capable or has any limitations of performing routine tasks while wearing assigned respiratory equipment. The initial evaluation may require follow-up medical evaluations.
    • Additional medical evaluations will be required when:
    • An employee reports medical signs or symptoms that are related to ability to use a respirator;
    • A PLHCP, supervisor, or the EH&S department determines that an employee needs to be re-evaluated;
    • Information from the respiratory protection program, including observations made during fit testing and program evaluation, indicates a need for employee re-evaluation; or
    • A change occurs in workplace conditions (e.g., physical work effort, protective clothing or temperature) that may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on an employee.
    • Medical evaluation documentation will be retained by the Physician or other Licensed Health Care Professional (PLHCP).
    • Contact Lenses:
      • Contact lenses will not be permitted while wearing a respirator equipped with a full-face-piece, helmet, hood, or suit.
    • Prescription Glasses:
      • Prescription eyeglasses with temple bars must not be used while wearing a full-face-piece respirator.
      • As a temporary measure, glasses with short temple bars may be taped to the respirator wearer's head.
      • Special corrective lenses, which are made to be mounted inside a full face-piece, must be used by a person who needs corrective lenses. 

 VI.  Procedures

    • Selection of respiratory protective equipment will be done by EH&S and based upon the hazard, the protection factor (PF) required, eye protection required and the odor-warning properties of the chemical(s) involved.  Only respirators certified by NIOSH and/or MSHA and so labeled must be used.
    • In order to specify respiratory protection equipment a reasonable estimate of employee exposures to respiratory hazard(s) and identification of the contaminant must take place. In addition, initial and periodic air sampling may be necessary to quantify the exposures.
    • Employee must first receive written medical authorization to use a respiratory device.
    • Respirator fit testing will then be conducted by EH&S.
    • Respirators are issued by the University department only after the employee has passed the respirator fit test.
    • Inspection:
      • All respirators must be inspected routinely before and after each use.
      • Respirators can be permanently damaged if they are not stored properly. After use, clean, sanitize, and store respirator in a re-sealable plastic bag.
      • Respirators must be kept in a cabinet separate from the work environment, away from sunlight, dust, moisture, extreme temperatures and damaging chemicals.
    • REPAIRS:
      • Only qualified persons must do repairs or replacements of parts.
      • All damaged or faulty components are to be repaired using parts from the same brand of respirator.
      • Use of unapproved parts voids any NIOSH approval and is prohibited.
      • Respirators issued are for the exclusive use of an employee and must be cleaned and disinfected as often as necessary to be maintained in a sanitary condition.
      • Before transferring a respirator from one person to another, the respirator must be cleaned and sanitized by the respirator user and checked by the next person before use.
      • Remove the filter elements and/or straps and wash the respirator with mild soap in warm water.
      • A bristle brush can be used to aid in the removal of dirt, or immerse the respirator in a sanitary solution recommended by the manufacturer for at least two minutes.
      • After washing, thoroughly rinse in clean water and drain.  Allow to air dry in a clean place.
    • Positive pressure check:
      • Close off the exhalation valve and exhale gently into the face-piece. The face fit is considered satisfactory if a slight positive pressure can be built up inside the face-piece without any evidence of outward leakage of air at the seal. For most respirators this method of leak testing requires the wearer to first remove the exhalation valve cover before closing off the exhalation valve and then carefully replacing it after the test.
    • Negative Pressure Check:
      • Close off the inlet opening of the canister or cartridge(s) by covering with the palm of the hand(s) or by replacing the filter seal(s), inhale gently so that the face-piece collapses slightly, and hold the breath for ten seconds. The design of the inlet opening of some cartridges cannot be effectively covered with the palm of the hand. The test can be performed by covering the inlet opening of the cartridge with a thin latex or nitrile glove. If the face-piece remains in its slightly collapsed condition and no inward leakage of air is detected, the tightness of the respirator is considered satisfactory.
      • Cartridges or canisters used for protection against gases or vapors with concentrations AT OR BELOW the threshold limit.  Value must be replaced at the end of the work shift, or sooner if odors are detected.
      • Mechanical filters (dust pre-filters as an example) must be replaced whenever noticeable breathing resistance occurs.
      • Cartridges or canisters used for respiratory protection against gases or vapors with concentrations ABOVE the threshold limit value must be replaced as directed in the Cartridge Change Schedule for the product or process. The Cartridge Change Schedule will be included in the work instructions when applicable. 

 VII.  Training

Training is necessary on all types of respirators. Training ensures that employees encountering potentially hazardous atmospheres are familiar with respiratory protective equipment.  In addition, employees become more knowledgeable about those hazardous atmospheres they may come upon.

  • All employees assigned respirators must receive annual training in accordance with the subject outline below.
    • No employee may be assigned a respirator until training has been conducted.
    • No employee can be assigned to a job requiring the use of a respirator until training and fit-testing has occurred.
    • Respirator training must be conducted by persons trained in the proper use and fitting of respirators with assistance, as required, from the Environmental Health & Safety Department.  At a minimum, the following training topics must be discussed:
    • The reasons for the need of respiratory protection.
    • The nature of airborne contaminants against which the wearer should be protected; why the protective device is the proper one for the particular purpose; the device's capabilities and limitations; and;, health effects from overexposure if the respirator is not worn.
    • Cartridge End of Service Life (ESL) and how to determine when it applies.
    • The importance of a good face-fit seal and of adhering to the facial hair guidelines (section V).
    • The purpose of qualitative and quantitative fit testing.
    • Instruction in inspecting, donning, user seal check (negative and positive pressure check) and wearing a respirator.
    • Allow employees the opportunity to: handle the respirator, read labels and instructions for its use and maintenance, wear it in an uncontaminated atmosphere.
    • An explanation of how to clean and store the respirator.
    • The written Respiratory Protection Program; employee responsibility for compliance; CAL/OSHA regulations and the CSUN program concerning respirator use. 

 VIII.  Forms Used

 IX.  Record Keeping

    • The Fit Test Record must include the following:
      • Name and department of employee.
      • Examiner’s name and date of respiratory fit testing.
      • Specific make, model, style, and size of respirator tested
      • Type of test (qualitative or quantitative) conducted
  • Record Retention
    • EH&S
      • Employee respirator fit test records will be maintained by EH&S.
  • Physician or other Licensed Health Care Provider (PLHCP)
    • Results of the medical evaluation will be maintained by the appropriate PLHCP. 

 X.  References

California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5144

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, Section 1910.134

American National Standard Institute Z88.2 1980   

 XI.  Revision Record





Update format, contents & procedures

August 2002


Change format change and update regulatory requirements

New Respiratory Medical Evaluation Questionnaire, form SF 2004.01

New Respiratory Protection Program Evaluation form, SF 2004.02

December 2003



Update format and insert links

May 2009


Change format and revise

January 2014



December 2018