The U.S. Department of Labor has approved a new standard for respirator fit testing, in an effort to protect American workers from dangerous airborne contaminants.

Effective as of September 26, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule to provide employers with two new respirator fit testing protocols for ensuring that employees’ respirators fit the individual in a proper manner.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to protect American workers and implement measures to further increase workplace safety.

What Does This Mean for Workers?

The newly introduced measures introduced by OSHA are the modified aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half mask elastomeric respirators, as well as the modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering face piece respirators.

Both of these protocols are variations of the original OSHA-approved ambient aerosol CNC protocol, but have fewer test exercises, shorter exercise duration, and a more streamlined sampling sequence.

These two quantitative methods add to the four existing in Appendix A of OSA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, which contains mandatory respirator fit-testing protocols which employers must choose from to protect employees from hazardous airborne contaminants. The rule does not apply to employees in the following: general industries, shipyard employment, and construction.

Employers not in the aforementioned industries are expected to update or replace their current methods for respirator fit testing.

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