- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Ask the expert: Voluntary use of N95 respirators

Q: A worker who is not exposed to H1N1 influenza patients wants to wear an N95 respirator. We are not opposed to this but wonder what we must do for OSHA compliance? Normally her duties would not require her to be part of our respiratory protection plan.

A: According to OSHA’s Respiratory Protection eTool [1], when an employers allows their employees to wear respirators on a voluntary basis when not required by OSHA, only limited provisions of a respiratory protection program is required. In the case of an N95 respirator, which is a filtering face piece type,  the employee must be provided with a copy of Appendix D: Information for Employees Using Respirators When not Required Under Standard [2]. The appendix advises the employee to read the manufacturer’s instructions for selecting, using and caring for the respirator. Fit-testing is not required for OSHA compliance with voluntary respirator use.

For all other types of respirators used on voluntary basis, an additional written respirator program that covers medical fitness and proper maintenance procedures must be implemented, according to OSHA.

HCPro’s Respiratory Safety for Healthcare Workers: Prevent Exposure to Airborne Infections [3] has more tips on OSHA compliance for N95 respirators. Click on the video clips below for a preview.

Get the Flash Player [4] to see the wordTube Media Player.