When occupational dusts, fumes, mists, gases, vapors, biological agents and infectious pathogens are present hazards to employees, employers must implement a respiratory protection program. OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard, 29CFR 1910.134, outlines these employer requirements. Many employers continue to struggle with this standard. In fact, during the fiscal year 2009, OSHA issued 3803 citations related to respiratory protection, the fourth most cited standard. Industry classifications with the highest number of citations included: masonry/stone cutters, paint shops, auto repair, millwork, fabricated metal shops and ship/boat repair.
How do you ensure compliance with this standard and, more importantly, protect the safety of your employees? It is not very complicated; however, building an effective program can take a moderate amount of expertise and a significant amount of time. Additionally, once the program is in place, it is important keep the program on your radar. Program enforcement and monitoring program effectiveness are the keys to maintaining compliance.