Engineering controls and safe work practices are the primary means to prevent employee overexposure to chemicals. However, when these controls are not feasible or available, then wearing a respirator may be necessary. Employees who wear a respirator must be given prior approval by the EHSC. Before a respirator is issued, a workplace assessment is conducted to identify harmful airborne chemicals. If respiratory protection is recommended, the employee will undergo medical approval, training and fit testing. Medical approval, either by physical exam or confidential medical questionnaire, is needed for first time respirator users and according to guidelines for current respirator users. These guidelines also pertain to N-95 respirator use.
Each department that uses respirators, including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), must have a written protocol. The protocol must be incorporated into the safety plan. The department’s written program must discuss hazards unique to their work area. Please be aware that two persons need to be qualified to use SCBA in order for SCBA to be used in the workplace.
To provide for the protection of North Carolina State University employees from over exposure to chemicals in the workplace according to OSHA Standard 29CFR1910.134.
- Notify EHSC at 515-6862 if there is a possibility of over exposure to a chemical.
- Assure that employees who are required to wear respirators receive medical approval. Refer to ‘Guidelines for Respirator Wear’ for information on medical approval. Make certain that the “Medical Surveillance Statement” is reviewed with employee before receiving medical exam.
- Maintain any physician reports in a confidential manner. Refer to Medical Surveillance, Sect. 6, ‘Supervisor’s Responsibilities’ for information on record keeping.
- Assure that new employees receive training and fit-testing.
- Assure that all employees who are required to wear a respirator receive annual training and fit-testing. Refer to Respirator Training for a schedule of classes.
- Assure that employees who are required to wear SCBA receive annual training and have written plans for its use.
- Monitor the employee’s use of the respirator, including appropriate wear, cleaning and storage of respirator. Refer to ‘Guidelines for Respirator Wear’ for information on the use and care of respirators, as well as an inventory of respirator equipment including Cartridge and Filter Selection
- Assure that respirators are maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
Environmental Health & Safety Center Responsibilities
- Oversee the Respiratory Protection Program for the University.
- Evaluate chemical exposure in the workplace and recommend control measures to reduce exposure.
- Select appropriate respirator for the chemical and exposure situation.
- Conduct training and fit-testing covering the use and care of respirators. Please refer to ‘Guidelines for Respirator Wear’ for information on the use and care of respirators.
- Act as a liaison with the medical provider and supervisor. Provide feedback to supervisors on medically related information.