Health, Safety, Security and Environment

New Protocols Proposed for Respiratory Protection Standard

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Proposed changes would provide more flexibility for companies in terms of fit-testing methods, according to OSHA.

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OSHA has proposed adding two protocols to its Respiratory Protection Standard aimed toward the general, shipyard and construction industries.

TSI Inc., a Shoreview, Minn. company engaged in the design and production of precision measurement instruments, submitted the application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators and filtering facepiece respirators.

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The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence, according to an OSHA statement.

The changes would allow companies more flexibility when selecting fit-testing methods for their workers. Under the proposed rule, a company would not be required to replace current fit-testing methods as long as those methods meet existing standards. There also are no additional costs for any private- or public-sector entity.

Mandatory fit-testing methods are covered under Appendix A of the standard. Individuals also are encouraged to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval, according to the agency.

OSHA is seeking public comment about the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace.

Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile SRR the Federal Register notice for details.

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