Respiratory Protection

Respiratory Protection Information

Respiratory protection may be necessary when engineering controls cannot control airborne exposures. Information on this web page and web pages listed on the left are intended to provide you with information to better understand respirator use, the respiratory protection program, and the requirements associated with their use.

Medical Evaluations

Using a respirator may place a physiological burden on employees that varies with the type of respirator worn, the job and workplace conditions in which the respirator is used, and the medical status of the employee. In those situations where the use of a respirator is required, you must have a medical evaluation to determine your ability to use a respirator prior to use.

UWM has a contract with Columbia St. Mary’s Corporate WORx to perform these medical evaluations. The Corporate WORx physician will review your medical evaluation questionnaire and will provide a written recommendation regarding your ability to use a respirator. The physician must know specific parameters of respirator use, such as the length of time that a person will use the respirator, the frequency of use, and any additional stresses that may be experienced during use.

Each person covered by this program will complete an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (Mandatory). Put the completed questionnaires into a sealed envelope identified with your name and marked “Confidential Medical Record” and send or deliver the envelope to University Safety and Assurances (US & A). US & A will forward the completed questionnaires to the CorporateWORx Office.

The CorporateWoRx physician will review the completed questionnaire and make a determination as follows:

  1. The questionnaire is complete and a determination can be made.
  2. The questionnaire is incomplete and additional information is required. In the case of an incomplete questionnaire, the physician will contact University Safety and Assurances and indicate what information is missing. US & A will follow-up with the employee.
  3. The questionnaire is complete, but further medical evaluation is indicated. If further medical evaluation is needed, the physician will contact US & A, who in turn will notify the employee that an appointment needs to be scheduled. Your appointment should be scheduled by calling (262) 268-6998.You will need to complete the following form and take it with you to your appointment:

The CorporateWORx physician will maintain the OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (Mandatory) as a medical record subject to confidentiality protocols.

While the physician will retain the medical record, a copy of the physician’s External Occupational Health Recommendation for Respirator Wear certification will be sent to University Safety and Assurances. US & A will maintain these records for the statutory required period of time.

Additional medical evaluations are required under certain circumstances, e.g.:

  • The employee reports medical signs or symptoms related to the ability to use a respirator;
  • The CorporateWORx physician, program administrator or supervisor recommends reevaluation;
  • Information from the respirator program, including observations made during fit-testing and program evaluations indicates a need, or
  • A change occurs in workplace conditions that may substantially increase the physiological burden of an employee.

Additionally some employees are required to undergo a “periodic medical examination” under the medical surveillance provisions of the respiratory protection standard. If you are required to participate in the periodic evaluation, you will need to complete the following form:

Again, this form should be completed, placed in a sealed envelope with your name and marked “Confidential Medical Record” and forwarded to University Safety & Assurances.

Any charges for the medical evaluation or medical testing will be the responsibility of the employee’s department.

Respirator Training

OSHA Information

NIOSH Information

Additional Resources

UW-Milwaukee Respiratory Protection Program

UW-Milwaukee Respiratory Protection Programpdf format, Adobe Acrobat Required


This program complies with the respirator-related provision of OSHA’s standard 29 CFR 1910.134.

NOTE: For TB: 29 CFR 1910.139 “Respirator protection for M. tuberculosis”, will continue to apply to respirator use for protection against TB.

  1. Permissible PracticeThe use of respirators is required where “effective engineering controls are not feasible or while they are being instituted.”UW-Milwaukee will provide employees with respirators that are “applicable and suitable” for the purpose intended “when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the employee.”
  2. Definitions and AcronymsThis paragraph contains definitions of important terms used in the regulatory text.
    OSHA —
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    NIOSH —
    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    IDLH —
    “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health” means an atmosphere that poses an immediate threat to life, would cause irreversible adverse health effects, or would impair an individual’s ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere.
    SCBA —
    “Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus” means an atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the breathing air source is designed to be carried by the user.
    SAR —
    “Supplied-Air Respirator” or airline respirator means an atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the source of breathing air is not designed to be carried by the user.
    ESLI —
    “End-of-Service-Life Indicator” means a system that warns the respirator user of the approach of the end of adequate respiratory protection, for example, that the sorbent is approaching saturation or is no longer effective.
    HEPA —
    “High Efficiency Particulate Air” filter means a filter that is at least 99.97% efficient in removing monodisperse particles of 0.3 micrometers in diameter. The equivalent NIOSH 42 CFR 84 particulate filters are the N100, R100, and P100 filters.
    APR —
    “Air-Purifying Respirator” means a respirator with an air-purifying filter, cartridge, or canister that removes specific air contaminants by passing ambient air through the air-purifying element.
  3. Respiratory Protection Program
    • The qualified program administrator to oversee the program is the Director of University Safety and Assurances.
    • Required respirators, training and medical evaluations are provided at no cost to the employee.
    • NOTE: Half and full facepiece respirators in use on campus, including voluntary, must be reviewed and approved for use by University Safety and Assurances.
  4. Selection of Respirators
    • Only respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) may be used in compliance with the conditions of its certification.
    • University Safety and Assurances staff will identify and evaluate the respiratory hazards in the workplace, including a reasonable estimate of employee exposures and identification of the contaminant’s chemical state and physical form.
    • University Safety and Assurances staff evaluate and approve departmental respiratory protection programs.
    • Where exposure cannot be identified or reasonably estimated, the atmosphere shall be considered “immediately dangerous to life or health (“IDLH”).
  5. Respirators for IDLH atmospheres:
    • Approved respirators:
      • full facepiece pressure demand self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) certified by NIOSH for a minimum service life of thirty minutes, or
      • combination full facepiece pressure demand supplied-air respirator (SAR) with auxiliary self-contained air supply.
    • All oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5% O2 by volume) shall be considered IDLH.
  6. Respirators for non-IDLH atmospheres:
    • For protection against gases and vapors, UW-Milwaukee shall provide:
      • an atmosphere-supplying respirator, or
      • an air-purifying respirators, provided that: — a respirator is equipped with an “end-of-service-life” indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the contaminant; or
      • If there is no ESLI appropriate for the conditions to the employer’s workplace, the employer implements a change schedule for canisters and cartridges that will ensure that they are changed before the end of their service life and describes in the respirator program the information and data relied upon and basis for the change schedule and reliance on the data.
    • For protection against particulates:
      • an atmosphere-supplying respirator; or
      • an air-purifying respirator equipped with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters certified by NIOSH or with filters certified for particulates; or
      • an air-purifying respirator equipped with any filter certified for particulates by NIOSH for contaminants consisting primarily of particles with mass median aerodynamic diameters of at least 2 micrometers.
  7. Medical Evaluation
    For those situations where respirators are required:

    • All employees must have a medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator, before fit-testing and use.
    • Columbia St. Mary’s Corporate WORx will perform the medical evaluations using a medical questionnaire or an initial medical examination. (See website for Medical Evaluation Form.)
    • Corporate WORx physician must provide a written recommendation regarding the employee’s ability to use the respirator.
    • Additional medical evaluations are required under certain circumstances, e.g.:
      • employee reports medical signs or symptoms related to the ability to use a respirator;
      • Corporate WORx physician, program administrator or supervisor recommends reevaluation;
      • information from the respirator program, including observations made during fit-testing and program evaluations indicates a need, or
      • change occurs in workplace conditions that may substantially increase the physiological burden of an employee.
      • Annual review of medical status is not required
  8. Fit Testing
    • All employees using a negative or positive pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirator must pass an appropriate qualitative fit test (QLFT) or quantitative fit test (QNFT).
    • Fit testing is required prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter. An additional fit test is required whenever the employee reports, or the employer makes visual observations of changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g., facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery or an obvious change in body weight).
    • The fit test shall be administered using an OSHA-accepted protocol:
    • Qualitative fit testing may be used to fit-test negative pressure air-purifying respirators (APRs) that must achieve a fit factor of 100 or less.
    • If the fit factor determined though Quantitative fit testing is 100 for tight-fitting half facepieces, or 500 for tight-fitting full facepieces, the Quantitative Fit testing has been passed with that respirator.


    Note: If a particular OSHA standard (e.g., 29 CFR 1910.1001 Asbestos) requires the use of a full facepiece APR capable of providing protection in concentrations up to 50 times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), this respirator must be quantitatively fit tested. This is because a protection factor of 50 (50 x PEL) multiplied by a standard safety factor of 10 is equivalent to a fit factor of 500.

    The safety factor of 10 is used because protection factors in the workplace tend to be much lower than the fit factors achieved during fit testing. The use of a safety factor is a standard practice supported by most experts to offset this limitation.

  9. Use of Respirators
    • Tight-fitting respirators shall not be worn by employees who have facial hair of any condition that interferes with the face-to-facepiece seal or valve function.
    • Personnel protective equipment shall be worn in such a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user.
    • Employees shall perform a user seal check each time they put on a tight-fitting respirator using the procedures in mandatory Appendix B-1 or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures.
    • Procedures for respirator use in IDLH atmosphere are stated.
  10. Maintenance and Care of Respirators
    Employees must clean and disinfect respirators using the procedures described in training or equally effective manufacturer’s procedures at the following intervals:

    • as often as necessary to maintain a sanitary condition for exclusive-use respirators,
    • before being worn by different individuals when issued to more than one employee, and
    • after each use for emergency respirators and those used in fit testing and training.
  11. Breathing Air Quality and Use
    Compressed breathing air shall meet the required for Type I-Grade D breathing air as described in ANSI/CGA Commodity Specification for Air, G-7.1 – 1989
  12. Identification of Filters, Cartridges and Canisters
    • All filters, cartridges and canisters used in the workplace must be labeled and color coded with the NIOSH approval label.
    • The label must not be removed and must remain legible.
  13. Training and Information
    • All employees required to wear respirators must attend respirator user training. The training includes:
      • why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, use or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator.
      • limitations and capabilities of the respirator
      • use in emergency situations
      • how to inspect, put on and remove, use and check the seals
      • procedures for maintenance and storage
      • recognition of medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent effective use
      • general requirements of this standard
    • Training is required prior to initial use, unless acceptable training has been provided by another employer within the past 12 months.
    • Retraining is required annually and when:
      • workplace conditions change
      • new types of respirator are used, or
      • inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use indicates need
      • The basic advisory information in Appendix D shall be provided to employees who wear respirators when their use is not required.
  14. Program Evaluations
    UW-Milwaukee will conduct evaluations of the workplace as necessary to ensure proper implementation of the program and consult with employees to ensure proper use.
  15. Recordkeeping
    • Records of medical evaluations must be retained and made available per 29 CFR 1910.1020
    • A record of fit tests must be established and retained until the next fit test.
    • A written copy of the current program must be retained.

Required Information for Voluntary Use of Respirators

Required Information for Voluntary Use Sign-off form pdf format, Adobe Acrobat Required(for printing and supervisor documentation)

Employers who allow their employees to wear respirators on a voluntary basis when not required by OSHA or the employer must implement limited provisions of a respiratory protection program. When a filtering facepiece respirator is all that is used, the employee must be provided a copy of Appendix D.


An employer may provide respirators at the request of employees or permit employees to use their own respirators, if the employer determines that such respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. If the employer determines that any voluntary respirator use is permissible, the employer shall provide the respirator users with the information contained in Appendix D to this section (“Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard”); and


In addition, the employer must establish and implement those elements of a written respiratory protection program necessary to ensure that any employee using a respirator voluntarily is medically able to use that respirator, and that the respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to the user. Exception: Employers are not required to include in a written respiratory protection program those employees whose only use of respirators involves the voluntary use of filtering facepieces (dust masks).

Appendix D to Sec. 1910.134 (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard

Respirators are an effective method of protection against designated hazards when properly selected and worn. Respirator use is encouraged, even when exposures are below the exposure limit, to provide an additional level of comfort and protection for workers. However, if a respirator is used improperly or not kept clean, the respirator itself can become a hazard to the worker. Sometimes workers may wear respirators to avoid exposures to hazards, even if the amount of hazardous substance does not exceed the limits set by OSHA standards. If your employer provides respirators for your voluntary use, of if you provide your own respirator, you need to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard.

You should do the following:

  1. Read and heed all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care and warnings regarding the respirator’s limitations.
  2. Choose respirators certified for use to protect against the contaminant of concern. NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, certifies respirators. A label or statement of certification should appear on the respirator or respirator packaging. It will tell you what the respirator is designed for and how much it will protect you.
  3. Do not wear your respirator into atmospheres containing contaminants for which your respirator is not designed to protect against. For example, a respirator designed to filter dust particles will not protect you against gases, vapors, or very small solid particles of fumes or smoke.
  4. Keep track of your respirator so that you do not mistakenly use someone else’s respirator.
[63 FR 1152, Jan. 8, 1998; 63 FR 20098, April 23, 1998]

Other Resources:

Respiratory Protection Program “Frequently Asked Questions”

    1. If someone asks for a dust mask can the supervisor issue one to him/her?
      A respirator should not be issued to anyone who is not part of an official respirator program.Dust masks can be used by people not in a full respirator program, but there are two important requirements that must be met.

      • First, a one page OSHA mandated form must be given or made available to the voluntary respirator wearer.
      • Second, the supervisor must determine that the respirator is not going to be used to protect against any exposure above the Permissible Exposure Limit.


    1. What is considered an exposure and what isn’t?
      An exposure event is an incident of contact with a chemical, biological or physical agent (e.g., air contaminant, infectious agent, noise, radiation, etc.) in the workplace by inhalation, ingestion, skin contact or absorption.An inhalation exposure above the Permissible Exposure Limit is considered an overexposure and must be addressed by engineering or administrative controls. If those measures are infeasible, respirators may be used (not voluntarily) as a control. Any exposure below the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) is still an exposure, although not allowed by OSHA.
    2. Does the supervisor have to make sure that the employee is wearing his respirator?
      It is not the sole responsibility of the supervisor, but a combined effort of training from University Safety and Assurances and the responsibility of the worker to utilize such training in his everyday work assignments. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to make sure the training is available and to ensure employees are following the proper procedures and exercising good judgment.


    1. What is the supervisor’s role in the respirator program?
      Supervisors play a critical role. Supervisors must determine whether exposure assessments are needed. Supervisors are in the best position to monitor day-to-day respirator activities and program compliance.


    1. Is fit testing required for positive pressure (PAPR) respirators?
      Fit-testing is only required for tight-fitting respirators. However, even tight-fitting positive pressure respirators such as Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) require fit-testing.


    1. Will I receive the results of my medical exam?
      Corporate WORx Occupational Health Services will let you know the outcome of your exam. You may get copies of your medical records from Corporate WORx directly. If you need a copy for your own physician or another purpose, work directly with Corporate WORx for those requests. The University does not get or see any medical records – only a determination of your capability to wear a respirator.


    1. If you’re wearing a respirator you’re not be exposed to anything at all, are you?
      Wrong. Any filter of cartridge will let a percentage of the contaminant through.The filter or cartridge efficiency, in conjunction with the type of mask help determine the protection factor for a particular respirator, which translates into how effective (how many times over the Permissible Exposure Limit) that mask will be. If we could measure the actual concentration of the contamination outside the mask versus the concentration inside the mask, that ratio would be the actual protection factor.In most cases, employers will use the protection factors assigned to a particular class of respirators (10 for ½-faced respirators, 50 for full-faced respirators, etc.) which are established by NIOSH and OSHA based upon test information for that class. A safety margin is incorporated into the assigned protection factors. Even a protection factor of 1000 means, theoretically that one-thousandth of the concentration outside of the mask could be present inside of the mask. If 10 ppm of a solvent was present outside of a half-faced respirator, that translates into a maximum of 1 ppm of that solvent inside of the respirator.That is why we need to know the expected concentrations of the contaminants in the workplace, especially when respirators are in use. Also, the wrong filter may not filter out anything!
    2. Does a chemical have more penetration with a dust mask?
      Chemical vapors and gases will penetrate (or break through) a dust mask more quickly than through a chemical cartridge used with a respirator. Dust masks and filters are primarily designed to filter out particulate, dust, fibers and the like. As filter and dust masks load up, they actually become more efficient, eventually letting little breathing air through.


    1. Explain “sensitizers.”
      Certain chemicals, such as Toluene Diisocyanate can have an effect on certain people who are exposed to a threshold concentration of that chemical. When the concentration of that effect decreases with each successive exposure event, the chemical is considered a “sensitizer.” The opposite of this effect is called “acclimation” or “desensitization.”


    1. Are the exposure acronyms included on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)?
      Yes, and often the acronyms are used without defining what they represent. The most common acronyms seen are PEL (for the Permissible Exposure Limit), STEL (Short Term Exposure Limit) C (Ceiling Limit), and IDLH (for an exposure that is Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health).


    1. What’s the shelf life for black/charcoal filters?
      Left with their original packaging intact, the charcoal filters can be stored indefinitely. Once opened, the cartridges should not be used if stored more than a few days, and then only if they were stored in an airtight container.


    1. How does heat and humidity affect respirator cartridges?
      Humidity will decrease the service life of the respirator cartridge. Heat tends to decrease the service life of the cartridge because more of the contaminant is evaporated at a higher temperature.


    1. What respirator do I wear during paint spraying?
      A NIOSH-certified half mask with organic vapor cartridges is the most appropriate respirator for normal paint spraying. The combination cartridges are also good, but those cartridges will not last as long. Also dust pre-filters, which attach to the front of the organic vapor (or combination) cartridges will help prolong the life of the cartridge.


    1. Does the Powered Air Purifying Respirator take oxygen off of a box?
      No. A Powered Air purifying Respirator, or PAPR simply acts like a conventional negative pressure respirator where a pump assists in bringing air across the filterpiece, rather than relying completely on the user’s lungs.


    1. When you start adding filters, does it get harder to breathe when you’re using a negative pressure respirator?
      This may occur, especially if HEPA type filters are used, and especially once the HEPA filter is loaded up. NIOSH has a minimum specification for the allowed pressure drop across a respirator filter, which manufactures must meet in order to get the NIOSH certification for that product. Combination filter may add to the pressure drop, or resistance of air flow across the filters, but the difference should be imperceptible for most applications.


  1. Do you need a medical certificate for wearing a single strap dust mask?”
    Single strap dust masks are not NIOSH approved and should not be used at UWM. The two strap filtering facepeice or dust masks that are approved by NIOSH can be worn and even supplied to UWM workers for use on a voluntary basis. The supervisors’ responsibility will be limited, in those cases, to giving the worker a copy of the OSHA’s Information for Employees Using Respirators When not Required Under StandardOtherwise, the supervisor must be sure that the voluntary respirator use is done in a sanitary fashion, and that no contaminants are present in concentrations approaching the Permissible Exposure Limits. Physical Plant Services or University Safety and Assurances are available to conduct appropriate types of air monitoring, upon request. Medical certification would not be necessary for voluntary respirator users.
  2. Can you use a vapor cartridge for dust?
    No. A vapor cartridge relies on a different filtering mechanism from a dust filter. While large particulate may not get through a vapor cartridge, the small particles which are the real threat to a person’s lungs and health, would likely pass right through a cartridge designed to filter out vapors.

Respirator Cleaning & Maintenance Instructions

Respirators must be washed and disinfected on a periodic basis. The following are instructions for maintaining a respirator:

  1. Remove filters, cartridges, or canisters. Air purifying element(s) cannot be washed for re-use. Charcoal air purifying element(s) can be reused if there is is no indication of contamination break-through or breathing restriction. Disassemble facepieces by removing speaking diaphragms, demand and pressure- demand valve assemblies, hoses, or any components recommended by the manufacturer. Discard or repair any defective parts.
  2. Wash components in warm (43° C [110° F] maximum) water with a mild detergent or with a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. A stiff bristle (not wire) brush may be used to facilitate the removal of dirt.
  3. Rinse components thoroughly in clean, warm (43° C [110° F] maximum), preferably running water. Drain.
  4. When the cleaner used does not contain a disinfecting agent, respirator components should be immersed for two minutes in one of the following:
    • Hypochlorite solution (50 ppm of chlorine) made by adding approximately one milliliter of laundry bleach to one liter of water at 43° C (110° F); or,
    • Aqueous solution of iodine (50 ppm iodine) made by adding approximately 0.8 milliliters of tincture of iodine (6-8 grams ammonium and/or potassium iodide/100 cc of 45% alcohol) to one liter of water at 43° C (110° F); or,
    • Other commercially available cleansers of equivalent disinfectant quality when used as directed, if their use is recommended or approved by the respirator manufacturer.
  5. Rinse components thoroughly in clean, warm (43° C [110° F] maximum), preferably running water. Drain. The importance of thorough rinsing cannot be overemphasized. Detergents or disinfectants that dry on facepieces may result in dermatitis. In addition, some disinfectants may cause deterioration of rubber or corrosion of metal parts if not completely removed.
  6. Components should be hand-dried with a clean lint-free cloth or air-dried.
  7. Reassemble facepiece, replacing filters, cartridges, and canisters where necessary.
  8. Test the respirator to ensure that all components work properly.
  9. Store the respirator in an air-tight re-sealable plastic bag. Place it in a cabinet or locker in such a manner as to not deform or crush the respirator.
  10. Write the installed date on the filter when installing new cartridges.

Additional Resources:

NIOSH Suggested Respirator Cleaning and Maintenance Instructions

Respirator Inspection Instructions

Always inspect and clean a new respirator before the first use. Respirators should be inspected, cleaned and disinfected after each use. Examine each part of the respirator for defects and replace* any defective parts.

Respirators NOT in regular use but place in the workplace or issued to individuals for emergency use MUST be inspected at least every 30 days.

  1. Examine elastomeric portion of the facepiece for rips, tears, holes, deformations, cracks, stiffening or signs of aging
  2. Examine head straps and harness for breaks, cuts, frays, tears, loss of elasticity and missing or damaged hardware
  3. Examine filter inlet to verify proper condition of threads
  4. Examine the inhalation and exhalation valves and valve seats for cracks or foreign substance which may not allow to valves to close completely. Verify that the valves are not distorted or missing and that valves have not become stiffened, distorted or decomposed
  5. Examine lens on full face respirator for cracks, excessive scratches or other damage
  6. Examine filtration media for physical condition. Be sure expiration date printed on the filtration media label has not passed. Be sure not more than one year has passed since filtration media was put in service
  7. Examine rubber filter clips to ensure they are distorted, decomposed or contain cuts
  8. Examine rubber gaskets to ensure they are not distorted or show signs of any cuts, cracks or scratches

Correct any deficiencies immediately or tag the respirator as in need of repair and remove from service.

*NOTE: Replacement parts must be from the same manufacturer and must be for the same model respirator. If other parts are substituted, the manufacturer’s guarantee is not valid, and the respirator may not function as designed. If you are in doubt, ask your supervisor.

Respirator Program: Portacount Fit Test Requirements

Excerpted from Appendix A to § 1910.134: Fit Testing Procedures (Mandatory)
Part I. OSHA-Accepted Fit Test Protocols

  1. Check the respirator to make sure the sampling probe and line are properly attached to the facepiece and that the respirator is fitted with a particulate filter capable of preventing significant penetration by the ambient particles used for the fit test (e.g., NIOSH 42 CFR 84 series 100, series 99, or series 95 particulate filter) per manufacturer’s instruction.
  2. Instruct the person to be tested to don the respirator for five minutes before the fit test starts. This purges the ambient particles trapped inside the respirator and permits the wearer to make certain the respirator is comfortable. This individual shall already have been trained on how to wear the respirator properly.
  3. Check the following conditions for the adequacy of the respirator fit: Chin properly placed; Adequate strap tension, not overly tightened; Fit across nose bridge; Respirator of proper size to span distance from nose to chin; Tendency of the respirator to slip; Self-observation in a mirror to evaluate fit and respirator position.
  4. Have the person wearing the respirator do a user seal check. If leakage is detected, determine the cause. If leakage is from a poorly fitting facepiece, try another size of the same model respirator, or another model of respirator.
  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating the Portacount and proceed with the test.
  6. The test subject shall be instructed to perform the exercises in section I. A. 14. of this appendix.
  7. After the test exercises, the test subject shall be questioned by the test conductor regarding the comfort of the respirator upon completion of the protocol. If it has become unacceptable, another model of respirator shall be tried.

Portacount Test Instrument.

  1. The Portacount will automatically stop and calculate the overall fit factor for the entire set of exercises. The overall fit factor is what counts. The Pass or Fail message will indicate whether or not the test was successful. If the test was a Pass, the fit test is over.
  2. Since the pass or fail criterion of the Portacount is user programmable, the test operator shall ensure that the pass or fail criterion meet the requirements for minimum respirator performance in this Appendix.
  3. A record of the test needs to be kept on file, assuming the fit test was successful. The record must contain the test subject’s name; overall fit factor; make, model, style, and size of respirator used; and date tested.

Respirator Seal Check Instructions

User Seal Check Instructions .pdf document, Adobe Acrobat required (for printing)

The individual who uses a tight-fitting respirator is to perform a user seal check to ensure that an adequate seal is achieved each time the respirator is put on. Either the positive and negative pressure checks, or the respirator manufacturer’s recommended user seal check method shall be used. User seal checks are not substitutes for qualitative or quantitative fit tests.

  1. Facepiece Positive and/or Negative Pressure Checks
    Positive Pressure Check Negative Pressure Check

    Positive Pressure Check

    Positive Pressure Check

    Close off the exhalation valve and exhale gently into the facepiece. The face fit is considered satisfactory if a slight positive pressure can be built up inside the facepiece without any evidence of outward leakage of air at the seal.

    For most respirators, this method of leak testing requires the wearer to first remove the exhalation valve cover before closing off the exhalation valve and then carefully replacing it after the test.

    Close off the inlet opening of the canister or cartridge(s) by covering with the palm of the hand(s) or by replacing the filter seal(s), inhale gently so that the facepiece collapses slightly, and hold your breath for 10 seconds. The design of the inlet opening of some cartridges cannot be effectively covered with the palm of the hand.

    The test can be performed by covering the inlet opening of the cartridge with a thin latex or nitrile glove. If the facepiece remains in its slightly collapsed condition and no inward leakage is detected, the tightness of the respirator is considered satisfactory.

  2. Manufacturer’s Recommended User Seal Check ProceduresThe respirator manufacturer’s recommended procedures for performing a user seal check may be used instead of the positive and/or negative pressure check procedures provided that the employer demonstrates that the manufacturer’s procedures are equally effective.