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Respiratory Protection - Refresher


Do I need respirator training?

Respirator training is required for all employees who are required to wear a respirator on the job.

What if I choose to wear a respirator when it's not required?

In an environment that presents no regulated health hazard, voluntary use of a respirator is permitted as long as it will not in itself create a hazard.

You must provide proof that you are medically able to use that respirator (in other words, you will be required to obtain a medical approval from your doctor prior to being allowed to wear a respirator). Also you must ensure that the respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to you.

Although a fit test is not required for voluntary use of respirators; if you would like to have a fit test of your respirator, you may contact our office at 581-4055.

If you are not required to use a respirator (by OSHA, UMaine, or your supervisor) but you choose to use one voluntarily, you do not have to complete the rest of this training module. However, you must complete the Respirator Protection Voluntary Use Requirements located on the SEM Documents web page.  Provide a copy of that form to your supervisor.

If you are required to wear a respirator, please continue with this training module.

What if I only use a dust mask?

Dusk maskOSHA defines a filtering facepiece (dust mask) as a "negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the facepiece or with the entire facepiece composed of the filtering medium". These are still considered 'respirators' therefore, if your job requires you to wear a respirator, all the required respiratory protection program standards apply (medical, training, fit testing, etc.).

If you work in an environment that presents no regulated health hazard, and your only use of a respirator is the voluntary use of a dust mask, then you are not required to obtain a medical approval.

Why should I wear a respirator?

Respirators are required if you work in an environment where harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, fumes, gases, vapors, or sprays are present.

If you work in an environment that has insufficient oxygen, you must contact our office for additional requirements and training.

If toxic substances are present in your workplace, and engineering controls (i.e. ventilation), work practice controls (shorter work periods), or substituting a less toxic material cannot reduce the hazard to below safe levels, you will be required to wear a respirator to protect you from these contaminants which could cause significant health hazards such as cancer, lung impairment, other diseases, or death.

What do I have to do before I am allowed to use a respirator?

First, you are required to have a medical approval from a physician or other licensed health care professional prior to being approved to wear a respirator. Wearing a respirator may place a physiological burden on the user depending on the type of respirator used, the task involved, the environment it is used in, and the person. The physician will evaluate your medical questionnaire and may also conduct a physical examination (i.e. pulmonary function test) to determine whether you are able to wear a respirator.

Contact our office at 581-4055 for more information.

Am I required to see a doctor?Doctor with stethoscope

A medical evaluation may be necessary if:

  • the physician determines that you need to be evaluated based on your questionnaire.

  • you, your supervisor, the physician, or the respirator program administrator determines that you need to be evaluated.

  • you report any medical signs or symptoms that are related to your ability to use a respirator.

  • observations made during fit testing and program evaluation, indicates a need for your reevaluation.

  • a change occurs in workplace conditions (e.g., physical work effort, protective clothing, temperature) that may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on you.

How often do I need training?

Initially and annually. The training provided in this module and by your supervisor consists of information to ensure that you can demonstrate knowledge of at least the following:

  • Why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator.
  • Limitations and capabilities of the respirator.
  • How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations, including situations in which the respirator malfunctions.
  • How to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator.
  • What the procedures are for maintenance and storage of the respirator.
  • How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirator.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires retraining annually, and when the following situations occur:

  • Changes in the workplace or the type of respirator render previous training obsolete.

  • Inadequacies in the employee's knowledge or use of the respirator indicate that the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill.

  • Any other situation arises in which retraining appears necessary to ensure safe respirator use.

If you have any questions during this training module, please don't hesitate to call us at 581-4055 or contact your safety office.