OSHA is very clear in their guidelines that “not all air is safe to breathe” and that some contaminants can cause occupational disease through harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays or vapors. An employer’s responsibility is to minimize airborne hazards if possible. In the event of continued airborne hazards, employers must provide employees with respirators that comply with OSHA standards.
Respiratory protection violations are a result of these issues in the workplace that can be corrected with better communication and policy:
- Lack of written procedures in place
- Failure to perform fit testing for respirators
- Inadequate employee medical evaluations with follow-up
- Inadequate training about respirator use procedures
OSHA penalties for respirator violations are severe – including fines that can exceed $13,000 per violation per day. If OSHA determines a willful violation on the part of the employer, the fines can be increased by 10X.
Build a respiratory violation protection checklist that includes the following:
- Review your existing respirators to ensure they are NIOSH-certified and protect against the contaminants present in your workplace.
- Test your equipment regularly and properly. Replace broken respirators immediately.
- Document all medical evaluations, fit testing records and a copy of the current respiratory protection program. These records may be requested by OSHA at any time.
DII is your partner in workplace safety and risk mitigation. If you have any questions about OSHA compliance in respiratory disease prevention, please contact your DII representative.