Most employers understand the necessity of respirator use when their worksites contain hazardous chemicals, particles, or dust in the air.
However, remaining compliant with respiratory protection involves more than simply providing a mask. As per the respirator standard, respirators need to be regularly checked for effectiveness by way of fit testing.
Surprisingly, that’s not the most overlooked part of the respirator standard.
In February, OSHA revealed its top-10 most-cited violations for FY 2020 (See Here). Respiratory protection finished third on the list, which is two spots higher than FY 2019, with CFR 1910.134(e)(1) as the most cited section of the standard. The vast majority of violations occurred because employees did not receive medical evaluations to determine their ability to use respirators.
The Respirator Standard & Medical Clearance
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 impairs breathing, especially for older employees or those with asthma. It also affects vision and triggers panic attacks.
Thus, employees must be evaluated before they are fit tested, according to OSHA standard 1910.134(e)(1). That section states that “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 a respirator in the workplace.”
Even if the respirator is only used for a short period of time, it may trigger breathing difficulties and claustrophobia.
Evaluating and fitting employers out of order can lead to steep OSHA fines — up to $13,653 per violation for serious violations, and up to $136,532for repeat or willful violations, as of June 28, 2021.
Get Your Respirator Clearances Online Today
At Worksite Medical, we make respirator standard medical clearances easy and fast.
Get started — online right now for just $30 — with these easy steps:
- Complete your respirator clearance questionnaire on a computer or mobile device, then submit;
- A respirator clearance certificate will be issued to you instantly, if you pass;
- If you do not pass, your questionnaire will be reviewed by a licensed medical professional.
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
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Keep you and your employees in compliance with onsite medical surveillance testing.
From OSHA physicals to respirator fit testing, blood work, and audio exams, we’ve got you covered, at your convenience (see full list of services here).
Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!