Facilities Management

Respirator Protection Program

1. Purpose:

Physical plant employees at Western Illinois University must be protected from inhaling atmospheres that exceed hazardous concentrations of dusts, fumes, mists, vapors and microorganisms. The Respiratory Protective Program for administering an effective respiratory program and provides the information, training, and equipment necessary for proper selection, use and maintain respirators.

The University 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.

  1. References: 1998 OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR Part 1910.134)
  2. Respirator Use: WIU will provide the appropriate respiratory protection when it is necessary to protect the health of an employee. Respiratory protection shall be used:

For non-routine operations involving exposures to air contaminants above OSHA permissible exposure limits. For permanent exposure control when engineering controls are not feasible. As a precaution to prevent exposures, such as during asbestos abatement, lead abatement, chemical spill cleanup.

2. Medical Evaluations

Prior to assigning respirators to workers, a determination must be made to assure that employees are physically able to perform the work while wearing the equipment. The on-line medical evaluation can be accessed through 3M.

3. Responsibilities

The employee’s immediate supervisor is responsible for arranging and enforcing the use of respiratory protection. The supervisor is also responsible to:

  • Report any accidents, injury or illness that may be related to the use of respiratory protection.
  • Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability
  • This program and the associated technical and administrative decisions necessary for program implementation.
  • Monitoring the workplace to determine employee exposures and the need for respiratory protection.
  • Discussing with the chemical hygiene officer or department supervisor to select respirator for their purpose.
  • Performing respirator fit tests on respirator wearers.
  • Training employees required to wear respirators.
  • Conducting respirator audits to determine program effectiveness.

4. Employees are responsible to:

  • Use only respirators issued or approved by EHS&S in accordance with the training and fit testing received
  • Wear respirators only as required for designated tasks and in special location.
  • Check the face piece seal of the mask each time the respirator is worn.
  • 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 valves.
  • Wear corrective lenses with full face respirators that use special eyeglass frames designed to fit inside the face piece.
5. Selections and Use of Respirators

All respirators used at WIU shall be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

All respirators shall be used and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.


Filtering Face Piece Dust Mask 10xTLV or PEL
Half-Mask, Air Purifying Respirator 10xTLV or PEL
Full Face (FF), Air Purifying Respirator 50xTLV or PEL
PARPs with loose fitting hood or half face piece 25 and 50x TLV or PEL
PARPs with full face mask or NIOSH certified helmet 1000x TLV or PEL
Supplied air continuous flow or demand with half mask 50xTLV or PEL
Supplied air in pressure demand mode with FF mask 1000x TLV or PEL
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) or
FF Airline Mask with SCBA in Pressure Demand Mode
10,000x TLV or PEL

Respirators meeting the above minimum protection factor requirements shall be used whenever the Threshold Limit Value (TLV) is exceeded.

7. Procedures for wearing respirators:

Only clean, sanitized, and inspected respirators shall be worn by the individual for whom they were fit tested and approved.

A positive and negative pressure sealing check shall be performed on all tight fitting respirators.

Each time an employee exits the work area; the respirator should be removed and washed before being placed into storage.

8. 1 Inspecting and Donning the respirator

8.1.1    Air-Purifying Respirators
8.1.2    Prior to donning the respirator, the wearer must check to ensure that all parts are present and intact, and that the respirator is clean.
8.1.3     The respirator is donned by placing a device over the face by first fitting the chin into the respirator and pulling the face piece to the face.
8.1.4    Position the headbands around the crown of the head and the back of the neck
8.1.5    Adjust the headbands, beginning with the lowest ones, until a tight, but comfortable fit is obtained; and
8.1.6    Perform a positive and negative pressure check

8.2 Full or Half Face Powered-Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR’s)

8.2.1    Prior to donning the respirator, the wearer must ensure that all required parts are intact, that the device is clean; and the battery is charged. Check the flow of air to the respirator using the supplier rotometer to assure acceptable air volume, typically 6 CFM.
8.2.2    The respirator is donned by placing the device over the face by first fitting the chin into the respirator and pulling the face piece to the face.
8.2.3    Position the headbands around the crown of the head and the back of the neck;
8.2.4    Adjust the headbands, beginning with the lowest ones, until a tight, but comfortable fit is obtained.
8.2.5    Connect the breathing tube to the respirator and the motor to a fully charged battery pac, and the belt pack is fastened to the small of the back.
8.2.6    Disposable respirators (filtering face pieces)
8.2.7    Disposable respirators or dust masks should not be used in situations that require protection from hazardous dust or chemicals unless fit tested to an individual.
8.2.8    Disposable respirators shall be NIOSH approved as N-95 or better
8.2.9    Disposable respirators must be fitted and in place prior to entering the work area.

Fit testing, cleaning, maintenance and storage procedures. NIOSH-approved disposable dust masks will have two head straps. Masks having only one strap are commonly called “comfort” masks because they are designed to be used where nuisance dust may be present at non-hazardous levels. Comfort masks are not NIOSH-approved, and they do not meet OSHA requirements for providing respiratory protection.

When respirator use is required, the employer must meet all of the standards’ requirements, including the requirements for using NIOSH-approved respirators and providing medical evaluations and fit testing.

There is an exception for voluntary use of respirators when workers are not exposed to hazardous levels of air contaminants. For example, an employee with seasonal allergies may want to wear a mask for comfort when working outdoors. Fit tests and medical evaluations are not required for voluntary use of a dust mask.

When a respirator has a tight fitting face piece, the user must do a “seal check” each time he puts on the respirator. The procedures are outlined in the respiratory protection standards of the OSHA standards.

Workers can also follow procedures recommended by the respirators manufacturer. The seal check verifies that the person has correctly put on the respirator and has adjusted it properly.

A user seal check is not the same thing as a fit test. A fit test, following the procedures in the OSHA standards, is required before the worker’s initial use of the respirator and at least annually thereafter.