Don't Forget About the Respirator Rules!
The hot topic in construction safety recently is silica dust, how it will affect the way work is accomplished, and how it will affect our workers. One of the preventative measures used in silica dust exposure is to wear a respirator when wet methods can't keep the dust down, but unfortunately, many contractors have ignored OSHA's respiratory protection regulation (
Subpart I of the General Industry 1910.134 rules
Wearing a respirator is a lot more complicated than just pulling one out of the box and putting it on. It requires that a worker be cleared by a physician before being required to wear a paper dust mask or other respirator. The physician's permission must be given even before a fit test is administered. OSHA has made it somewhat easy to get the doctor's permission by publishing a health questionnaire that the worker completes and sends to the physician, which is located in Appendix C of the Standard. The employer must send information to the physician as well, including the type of respirator the worker must wear, how long during the day it will be worn, and what hazards the worker is being protected from. The physician looks at both documents to determine if the worker should be seen in person or if the worker is good to go. Once the physician gives the OK, then the worker must be trained and fit-tested on the type of respirator that the employer has selected to protect against the hazard. If a physician has not given permission for a worker to wear a respirator of any kind, then the worker could be susceptible to injury and a citation could be issued. In addition, if an employee wears a respirator voluntarily, meaning the conditions don't require a respirator, then the employer must follow Appendix D of the Standard which doesn't require the physician's permission but does require that the employee understand limitations of the respirator.
Contact one of our
today to train and fit-test your employees to properly wear a respirator.
Please note that each employer is still required to get a physician's permission first.