Ever wonder what puts you most at risk for an OSHA violation when it comes to OSHA’s respiratory protection standard? We know you probably haven’t, but to help you avoid OSHA fines, we’re diving into the top violations that put you out of step with OSHA compliance. We’ve ordered them from least to most common, with valuable insights around each one to help you avoid them.
8. Using Non-NIOSH Approved Respirators
While the pandemic and subsequent respirator shortage prompted temporary flexibility, using non-NIOSH approved respirators is no longer acceptable. Adhering to approved standards ensures the reliability of respiratory protection in the face of potential shortages.
Note: NIOSH is The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They research and make recommendations related to occupational safety. OSHA, The Occupation Safety and Health Administration, is the agency that creates and enforces workplace safety standards.
7. Modifying Respirators
Respirators must be worn in the same state they arrived in. Any modification, including tampering with straps, can compromise the seal and effectiveness of the respirator, making it imperative to use them as intended.
6. Poor Record Keeping
Maintaining meticulous records is not just a bureaucratic requirement but a cornerstone of OSHA compliance. Fit test records are required to be kept for at least one year, and medical evaluations for the term of employment plus 30 years. Having these records readily available is crucial for OSHA compliance, and will help you navigate an OSHA inspection with flying colors.
This is one of the key reasons we created the Respirator Fit Testing Portal. It handles all of the recordkeeping, so you don’t have to.
5. Skipping the Medical Evaluation
A prerequisite to respirator fit testing, the medical evaluation assesses a worker’s physical ability to wear a mask safely. Skipping this step can compromise the health and safety of your workforce, as it evaluates their fitness for respirator use. We offer online medical evaluations that integrate with our Respirator Fit Testing Portal, so you get results in real-time, streamlining fit testing clearance.
4. Lack of Air Testing or Monitoring
Monitoring workplace hazards is as crucial as providing protection. Regular air testing ensures that the hazard levels are within acceptable limits, guaranteeing that your workers receive the necessary level of protection from their respirators.
3. Fit Testing with Facial Hair
Facial hair and masks are incompatible. OSHA standards strictly prohibit respirator fit testing with facial hair or wearing masks with facial hair, as it compromises the seal between the mask and the user’s face, rendering the protection ineffective.
2. Neglecting Respirator Fit Testing
Respirator fit testing is a non-negotiable requirement and mandated by OSHA. Failing to conduct fit tests for respirators can expose workers to airborne hazards, making fit testing a critical step in ensuring the effectiveness of respiratory protection measures. Fit testing needs to be conducted before an employee first needs to wear a respirator, and on an annual basis thereafter. Also, if someone gains or loses weight or has major facial or dental work, they should be fit tested again. Fit testing also needs to be outlined in your Respirator Protection Program (RPP, see #1 below).
1. Inadequate Respiratory Protection Program (RPP)
The foundation of OSHA compliance, a written Respiratory Protection Program (RPP), is often overlooked. From fit testing procedures to mask sanitization protocols, a comprehensive RPP is essential for outlining your strategy for compliance and ensuring the safety of your workforce. This is the most frequent violation related to respiratory protection that occurs, and it’s usually due to a company not having their RPP written out, it’s incomplete (i.e. missing required information), or it’s inadequate (i.e. plan lacks quality).
Don’t Be the Next Respiratory Protection Violation
So, now you know the most common respiratory protection violations, the most logical thing is to avoid them. Good news on that front: safeguarding your team, and your business, doesn’t have to be a headache. We’ve got your back! Reach out to us about support for your respirator fit testing needs — we can handle all or just some of your fit testing process. Let’s ensure your workplace is not just compliant but genuinely safe for every member of your team. After all, when it comes to safety, we’re in this together!