The Respirator Medical Clearance
Most employers know that respirators are necessary if their work sites have hazardous chemicals, particles, or dust in the air. However, staying in compliance with respiratory protection is not simply providing a mask. Respirators need to be regularly checked for effectiveness by way of fit testing. Surprisingly, when it comes to being out of compliance, that is not the most overlooked part of the respiratory standard.
In 2017, the most respiratory violations happened because employees did not realize that employees needed to be medically cleared prior to using respirators by way of respirator medical clearance questionnaires. Worksite Medical Vice President of Sales Tom Piocquidio explained that a newly acquired customer ran into this issue during a recent OSHA inspection.
“I got a call from [their safety manager], and he told me they got dinged by OSHA for being out of compliance for respirators,'” Piocquidio said. “They were using PAPRs (Powered Air Purifying Respirators), so he didn’t need fit testing. But, I explained that, even though he didn’t need to fit test the PAPRs, which were loose-fitting, they’re still classified as respirators, so he still needs to have respirator medical clearances on file.”
For some, wearing a respirator can impair breathing, especially for older employees or those with asthma. It can also affect vision and trigger panic attacks. Thus, employees need to be evaluated before they are fit tested, according to OSHA standard 1910.134(e)(1). Breathing difficulties and claustrophobia can be triggered even if a respirator is on for a short amount of time. Evaluating and fitting employers out of order can lead to steep OSHA fines — a minimum of $12,675 per violation.
Getting Started Online
Employees can get cleared to wear their respirators online with Worksite Medical with a few easy steps:
- Complete your respirator clearance questionnaire on a computer or mobile device, then submit;
- The completed respirator clearance questionnaire will be reviewed by our staff PLHCP Medical Provider;
- A respirator clearance certificate will be issued to you within five (5) business days.
Our certified medical technicians let employees know whether they have any restrictions on respirator use.
Respirator clearance classifications include:
- Class I: No restrictions on respirator use.
- Class II: Respirator use for Emergency Response or Escape Only
- Class III: Respirator use is not permitted
Overall, respirator protection is still consistently on OSHA’s list of top violations. Each year, between 381,000 to 762,000 cancer diagnoses stem from prolonged exposure to workplace carcinogens. Learn more about how Worksite Medical can keep you and your employees in compliance with medical surveillance. Our other respirator services include fit testing and respiratory screening.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or chat with us now, to schedule an on-site visit today.
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