Joe Whiteman, director of safety services The Voice Newsletter January 2022

The respiratory protection standard directs employers on establishing and maintaining a respiratory protection program. The standard sets out the requirements for administration, procedures, training, fit testing, medical evaluation, selection, use, maintenance, cleaning, storage, and repair. We should look at this as the canary in the mine shaft, understand where OSHA is citing under this standard, and review and measure our programs to ensure we’re compliant and not exposing employees to a respiratory hazard and your organization to unnecessary OSHA violations.

As concrete contractors we’re not strangers to wearing respiratory protection. It’s imperative we understand the importance of a strong respiratory protection program and the requirements under this standard. 

Top 5 Sections Cited:
1- 1910.134 (e)(1): Medical evaluation (618 violations)
2- 1910.134 (f)(2): Fit testing requirements (519 violations)
3-1910.134 (c)(1): Written respiratory protection program (426 violations)
4- 1910.134 (k)(1): Training and information (61 violations)
5- 1910.134 (d)(1): General requirements (61 violations)

Many factors led to OSHA’s increased focus on respiratory protection. Certainly the pandemic played a role, as respiratory protection violations overtook the number two spot for 2021. That said, knowing the areas where OSHA cited this standard, I recommend you perform a thorough review of your written program. Use the top five sections cited as a checklist to measure against your current program. Ensure there are no gaps and that all provisions are properly documented, employees properly trained, and other requirements under this standard are met.

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