In controlling diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors, the NC State University’s Environmental Health and Safety has developed this Respiratory Protection Program to protect faculty, staff and students who are required to wear respiratory protection. Respiratory protection will only be implemented when effective engineering controls (for example, enclosure or confinement of the operation, general and local ventilation, and substitution of less toxic materials) are not feasible, or while they are being instituted.

The resource provided in this page would help you successfully navigate the elements of this program. For questions or help, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at

What’s on This Page:

Program Overview

A respirator may be required when engineering controls and safe work practices can’t prevent employee overexposure to inhalation hazards.


The supervisor, principal investigator, or site safety contact will first complete and submit a Respiratory Exposure Hazard Questionnaire. This process will determine if respirators are needed and ensure that other control measures (substitution, exhaust ventilation, etc…) have been addressed as primary protective measures.

EHS Review

EHS will review your questionnaire and make recommendations on respirator and cartridge type. This includes a full PPE Hazard Assessment for your task.

If EHS has determined that respirator use is not required, but the employee requests to voluntarily use a respirator, please skip to the Voluntary Use of Respirators section of this page to read more.

Medical Clearance

If EHS has approved respirator use for the task, the employee will then fill out an Exam Request Form and the Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire. Submit these forms, along with your signed PPE Hazard Assessment, to


Upon receiving medical clearance, the employee will take an online respirator training module. There is an initial training with a yearly refresher. Those whoonly use filtering facepiece respirators (N-95, disposable, etc.), should take the filtering facepiece training course.

Fit Test

Upon completion of the respirator training module, employees will be given access to the EHS Fit Test Calendar. They will sign up for a 30-minute timeslot and bring their respirator to the EHS Center on the scheduled date.

Voluntary Use of Respirators

EHS may determine that respirator use is not required, but the employee requests to voluntarily use a respirator. OSHA requires that the voluntary use of respirators (i.e., when respirators are not required by NC State), be controlled almost as strictly as if their use were required.

Medical clearance is required for respirator use, except for voluntary use of filtering face piece respirators (dust mask, N-95).

The employee must be provided with the information covered on NCSU’s Voluntary/Comfort Use of Respirators form which must be reviewed, completed by each employee, and submitted to EHS. This only needs to be done once.

Yearly Refresher

Every year, employees enrolled in the respiratory protection program must refresh their enrollment. The steps include:

  • Revisit your PPE Hazard assessment for any process changes
  • Resubmit the forms for medical clearance
  • Take the refresher training
  • Sign up for a new fit test

See the relevant sections above for more information on each step.



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