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Respiratory Protection Program

The goal of the program is to provide appropriate respiratory protection to CCC personnel in a manner consistent with regulatory requirements mandated by OSHA 29CFR 1910.134 and accepted professional practice.
  • Purpose

    The purpose of this program is to outline the minimum acceptable requirements for the use of respiratory protection by Central Community College (CCC) personnel.  The program delineates responsibilities, establishes respirator selection criteria and defines fit testing and training requirements.  The goal of the program is to provide appropriate respiratory protection to CCC personnel in a manner consistent with regulatory requirements mandated by OSHA 29CFR 1910.134 and accepted professional practice.

    This document serves as a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for faculty and staff who are required to wear a respirator during work assignments.  The college shall take prudent measures to implement engineering or work practice controls to eliminate hazardous conditions.  Where such controls are inadequate or prove ineffective, respiratory protection may be required.  These guidelines permit some exemptions from requirements for respirators worn on a voluntary basis.  These exemptions are subject to the discretion of college administration.
  • This program applies to all employees who are required to wear respirators during normal work operations and during some non-routine or emergency operations.  This includes designated employees in the following departments:

    Facilities Management Services:

    1. Painters-spray painting operations and varnish refinishing
    2. Pesticide or herbicide application
    3. Boiler Cleaning and Maintenance

    Autobody Technology:

    Painting and refinishing


    Spray painting operations and varnish refinishing


    Pesticide or herbicide application

    Emergency Response:

    Physical, Biological or Health Science Faculty for chemical release or biological exposure.

    CCC will provide appropriate respiratory protection when it is necessary to protect the health and well being of an employee.  Any respirator usage by employees, either required or voluntary (for comfort purposes), shall be pre-approved by the appropriate Dean, Director or Department Chairperson.

    In addition, some employees may desire to wear respirators during certain tasks that do not require respiratory protection.  As a general policy, CCC prohibits voluntary use of respirators with tight fitting facepieces.  Where voluntary use is deemed appropriate, the college will provide filtering facepiece respirators (dust masks).  Voluntary respirator use is subject to certain requirements of this program.


    Deans, Directors, and Department Chairpersons have overall responsibility for implementation of the Respiratory Protection Program within their departments and must ensure the program is understood and followed by the employees under their charge.
    Duties include:

    • Identify work areas, processes or tasks that require workers to wear respirators and evaluate hazards.
    • Ensure that employees (including new hires) have received appropriate training, fit testing, and medical evaluations.
    • Ensure the availability of appropriate respirators and accessories.
    • Ensuring proper cleaning, storage and maintenance of respiratory equipment.
    • Maintain records required by the program and forward copies of these records to Human Resources for inclusion in the employee’s permanent file.
    • Enforce the proper use of respiratory protection, when necessary. 


    Each employee is responsible to wear the respirator in the manner in which they were trained.
    Employees must also:

    • Comply with all provisions of this program.
    • Use only respirators issued or approved by CCC in accordance with the training and fit testing received.
    • Wear respirators as required for designated tasks or in specified locations.
    • Properly use, inspect, care for and maintain respirators as instructed and store them in a clean sanitary location.
    • Report potential exposures or respirator problems to supervisors.
    • Be clean-shaven in the area between the sealing surface of the respirator and the face.  (Facial hair must not interfere with operation of inhalation and exhalation valves.)
    • Inform their supervisor or college administration of any respiratory hazards that are not adequately addressed in the workplace or any other concerns regarding the program.

    All respirators must be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and shall only be used in accordance with the terms of that certification.  Also, all filters, cartridges and canisters must be labeled with the appropriate NIOSH approval label.  The label must not be removed or defaced while it is in use.

    Based on the hazards to which workers are exposed and in accordance with OSHA standards, CCC will conduct a hazard evaluation for each operation, process or work area where airborne contaminants may be present in routine operations or during an emergency.

    The selection of respirators depends upon the concentration of airborne contaminants likely to be encountered and the NIOSH protection factor assigned to each type of respirator as shown below:


    • Filtering Face Piece Dust Mask - 10x TLV or PEL
    • Half-Mask, Air-Purifying Respirator - TLV or PEL
    • Loose-Fitting PAPR’s or Air-line Hoods or Helmets - 25x TLV or PEL
    • Full-Face (FF), Air-Purifying -  50x TLV or PEL
    • FF, Powered Air-Purifying with H-filter - 50x TLV or PEL
    • FF, Continuous Flow or Demand - 50x TLV or PEL
    • FF Supplied Air, Pressure Demand Mode - 2,000 TLV or PEL
    • Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) or FF Air-line Mask with SCBA in Pressure Demand Mode - 10,000 TLV or PEL


    Respirators meeting the above minimum protection factor requirements shall be used whenever the Threshold Limit Value (TLV) is exceeded.  Respirators with higher levels of protection may always be used if desired.

    Voluntary Respirator Use:

    Disposable N95 or disposable respirators are the only voluntary use respirators permitted by CCC.  Respirators not issued by the college are not permitted for use.

    Departmental supervisors shall provide all employees who voluntarily choose to wear respirators with a copy of Appendix D of 29 CFR 1910.134 of the respiratory protection standard.  (Appendix D details the requirements of voluntary use of respirators by employees and is included as Appendix D of this document.)

    Limitations of Respirators

    Air-purifying and Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) shall only be used in atmospheres that are not oxygen-deficient, not Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH), or in atmospheres that do not exceed the protection factors listed above.

    Cartridge or canister respirators for gases and vapors may only be used when the airborne hazard has a physical warning, such as odor or if the cartridge has a color “end of service life indicator” (ESLI) which demonstrates chemical saturation.  A “Respirator Change Schedule” shall be established for each type of gas or vapor cartridge or canister used based on the concentration of air contaminants present, the temperature and humidity in the work area and the exertion level of employees.  Contact Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) for help in determining respirator service life.

    Airline respirators shall be used only with CCC administration approval.  If used in atmospheres that are IDLH, they must be fitted with an escape bottle.  IDLH work must be done only under written approval of CCC administration.

    SCBAs shall be worn for all entry into IDLH atmospheres.  Entry shall be restricted for emergency rescue only by trained and qualified personnel.  Efforts must be made to clear the confined space to eliminate IDLH atmospheres prior to entry.

    For supplied air respirators, compressed air must meet the requirements for Grade D breathing air.  All breathing air cylinders must be tested and maintained according to DOT 49 CFR Part 173 and 178.

    Compressors that are used for supplied air must be constructed and situated to prevent contaminated air from getting into the system.  Compressors must be equipped with in-line air-purifying sorbent beds and/or filters that are maintained or replaced following the manufacturer’s instructions and are tagged with information on the most recent change date and authorizing signature.  If the compressor is oil-lubricated it must have a high temperature and/or carbon monoxide alarm.

    Medical evaluation and approval is required prior to issuance of respirators.  No employee will be assigned to a task that requires the use of a respirator, unless it has been determined that the person is physically able to perform under such conditions. In addition, once a determination is made as to physical ability to wear a respirator and perform the work task, a review of the employee’s health status will be made on an annual basis. A copy of Appendix A will be provided to be filled out by the physician who makes the initial determination and subsequent review.

    Fit Testing

    Fit testing is required for all CCC employees who are required to wear tight-fitting Air Purifying Respirators (APRs), Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) and Supplied Air Respirators (SARs).  Employees will be fit tested with the make, model, and size of respirator that they will actually wear.  Employees will be provided with several models and sizes of respirators so that they may find an optimal fit.

    Fit Testing Frequency

    Employees shall be fit tested:

    • Prior to being allowed to wear any respirator with a tight-fitting facepiece.
    • Annually.
    • When there are changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g., obvious change in body weight, facial scarring, etc.)


    Fit testing shall be conducted following OSHA approved methods as described in 29CFR 1910.134 Appendix A.

    Cleaning and Disinfection

    Respirators will be regularly cleaned and disinfected.  Those issued for the exclusive use of one person will be cleaned after each days use, or more often if necessary.  Those used by more than one employee will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use.  The supervising department shall ensure that respirators are cleaned and disinfected according to the guidelines in Appendix B.


    Each respirator will be stored in a convenient, clean, and sanitary location.  These locations should protect the respirator from dust, sunlight, heat, extreme cold, excessive moisture or damaging chemicals that could accelerate deterioration.  Storage should be in a plastic bag within a rigid container or suitable container with a resealable lid.


    Where practicable, the respirators will be assigned to individuals for their exclusive use.  These employees will inspect their respirators before each use and during cleaning.  Worn or deteriorated parts will be replaced immediately. Respirators for emergency use will be inspected at least once a month and after each use.  Inspection guidelines are shown in Appendix C.

    Filter Cartridge Change Schedule

    Air-purifying respirators use various types of filtration systems to remove air contaminants prior to inhalation.

    These systems range from cartridges and canisters that remove complex mixtures of chemicals to ones, which remove dust and smoke particles. These types of cartridges and canisters may endure multiple uses; however employees need to know just how long they may be used under a wide variety of circumstances.

    To ensure that these cartridges are changed before they are spent a change out schedule or end of service life indicator (ESLI) is necessary. NIOSH approved ESLI cartridges shall be used whenever possible.  ESLI cartridges change color when it is time to replace the cartridge.  If there is no ESLI cartridge available for the contaminants identified in the work area, the employee must follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the change out schedule.

    Documentation of the manufacturer’s recommendations and change out schedule must be completed on the form in Appendix F.

    All respirator users and their supervisors will be trained on the contents of the CCC’s Respiratory Protection Program, their responsibilities under it, and on the OSHA Respiratory Protection standard. Training must be conducted prior to the employee’s use of a respirator in the workplace. 
    Training will cover the following topics:

    • CCC’s Respiratory Protection Program
    • OSHA Respiratory Protection standard
    • Respiratory hazards encountered at CCC and their health effects
    • Proper selection and use of respirators
    • Limitations of respirators
    • Donning and user seal (fit) checks
    • Fit testing
    • Maintenance and storage
    • Medical signs and symptoms limiting the effective use of respirators

    The Human Resources (HR) department maintains copies of training and fit test records.  These records will be updated as new employees are trained, as existing employees receive refresher training and as new fit tests are conducted.

    The HR department will also maintain copies of the medical clearance records for all employees covered under the respiratory protection program.  The completed medical questionnaire and documented findings are confidential and will remain with the appropriate medical practitioner.  HR will only retain written recommendation regarding each employee’s ability to wear a respirator.

    Appendix A - F

    APPENDIX A - Medical Questionnaire for Respirator Users
    APPENDIX B - Cleaning and Sanitizing Guidelines
    APPENDIX C - Respirator Inspections
    APPENDIX D - Employee Voluntary Use of Respirators
    APPENDIX E - Respirator Fit Test Record
    APPENDIX F - Respirator Cartridge Change-out Schedule