Respiratory Protection Week 2022 is here. So, what is it and how can you participate?
Each year, the CDC continues respirator research to address knowledge gaps and use this observance week to share findings and educational tools to promote proper respiratory protection practices.
While this is the fourth annual event, Respiratory Protection Week actually goes back ten years. It began in 2012 with N95 Day, which celebrated respiratory practices with protective information and festivities. In 2019, the day turned into a weeklong observance to go beyond just N95 protection.
Why do we need respiratory protection in workplaces?
Respiratory protection in the workplace is of utmost importance, to both workers and leadership at work.
According to a recent joint American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society publication, approximately 1-in-10 people worldwide become ill with a range of non-cancerous lung diseases due to workplace respiratory hazards.
Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic normalized the use of respirators in public places. Here in the United States, millions of workers are expected to wear respirators in their various workplaces. These respirators are considered as personal protective equipment (PPE), designed to protect workers against low oxygen environments, harmful dust particles, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, microbes in the air, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death, which is why OSHA requires employers to fit test respirators, train employees on respiratory protection, and to gain medical clearances prior to respirator use.
Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.
Related article: Don’t Overlook These Other Occupational Respiratory Illnesses.
Breaking down the OSHA respiratory protection program guidelines
Here’s a quick breakdown of OSHA’s guidelines for selecting respirators for use in the workplace:
- Medical evaluations of CSHOs required to use respirators;
- Fit testing procedures for tight-fitting respirators;
- Use of respirators in routine and reasonably foreseeable emergency escape situations;
- Procedures and schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, and otherwise maintaining respirators;
- Procedures to ensure adequate air quality, quantity and flow of breathing air for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA);
- Training employees in the respiratory hazards to which they are potentially exposed;
- Training employees in the proper use of respirators, including putting on and removing them, any limitations on their use, and maintenance procedures; and
- Procedures for regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the program.
Additionally, here are a few resources we put together to help you with your respiratory program:
- Article: Are you forgetting this key part to the respirator standard?
- Article: OSHA’s top-5 respiratory violations from 2021
- Article: Are you using NIOSH-approved N95 respirators
- Article: Reminder – respirator fit testing is required annually
- Download: Respirator refresher printout for a workplace common area
How can you participate in Respiratory Protection Week?
To participate in this year’s event, the CDC encourages hosting activities within your own organization, whether that be training sessions with your staff, educational messages pertaining to your specific workplace hazards, or just fun pictures on social media of your staff showing off their proper respiratory protection practices (and general love of a safe workplace environment!).
The CDC will also be active on their social media platforms promoting information and new resources. You are encouraged to join the conversation. Follow the observance hashtag (#RespiratorWeek) to stay up to date on the latest information.
Additionally, you can schedule your respirator fit testing and/or set up your team’s respirator medical clearances online with Worksite Medical. Not only will you protect your team, you’ll comply with OSHA standards in the most convenience way possible.
To get started, just complete the form below, call us at 1-844-OCCUMED, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Respiratory Protection week runs from Sept. 6-Sept. 10, so make sure to show off your program and use those hashtags!
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.