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Respiratory Protection Fact Sheet

The UMD Respiratory Protection Program provides direction on equipment and measures to protect us
from inhaling harmful substances, such as dust, fumes, gases, and other airborne particles. Respiratory
protection is essential for UMD personnel who may be exposed to these substances while working at
the University. Described below are some key parts of the respiratory protection program, that you can
find on this webpage; moreover, these elements are presented in the online training module, which
satisfies initial and refresher training, is found in the SciShield (formerly BioRAFT) Database System:

  1. Types of Respirators: Respirators can be classified into two broad categories: air-purifying respirators and atmosphere-supplying respirators. Air-purifying respirators filter the air in the immediate vicinity of the wearer, while atmosphere-supplying respirators provide breathable air from an external source. 
  2. Respirator Fit: A good fit is essential for effective respiratory protection. A fit test should be performed to ensure that the respirator fits snugly and provides an adequate seal around the wearer's face. Our program enables two types of fit tests: one which can be performed at your location and one that’s suitable for higher exposures that is done by Occupational Safety and Health.
  3. Respirator Use: Respirators should be used in conjunction with other protective measures, i.e., Elimination, Substitution, Engineering controls, Administrative Controls, and other Personal Protective Equipment. UMD personnel are trained in the proper use, maintenance, and storage of respiratory protection equipment. 
  4. Respirator Selection: The type of respirator selected should be based on the hazards present in the workplace, as well as the level of protection required. UMD’s Hazard Evaluation procedure is used to determine the course of action for the correct respiratory protection. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides guidance on the selection of respirators.
  5. Respirator Maintenance: Respirators should be inspected regularly and cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions. Damaged or malfunctioning respirators should be replaced immediately.
  6. Respirator Use Limitations: Respirators have limitations and may not provide complete protection against all hazards. UMD personnel are trained to be aware of the limitations of the respirators they are using and take appropriate precautions to minimize exposure.
  7. Respirator Use Regulations: Employers are required by law to provide respiratory protection to workers who are exposed to hazardous substances in the workplace. OSHA has established regulations for respiratory protection in the workplace.
  8. Voluntary use of respiratory protection is allowed in certain situations. UMD maintains the responsibility to provide a safe work environment and inform employees of the potential hazards present. When the hazards are not present to require respiratory use, UMD personnel who choose to use respirators on a voluntary basis should also take responsibility for ensuring that the respirator is used properly and maintained appropriately. Voluntary use of filtering facepieces (e.g., N95s) do not require fit-testing or medical evaluations. Those wearing elastomeric respirators (synthetic rubberized material) must undergo the fit-testing and medical evaluations.  All those who are using respiratory protection voluntarily must be provided Appendix D to § 1910.134 (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard.
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