OSHA Revises Respiratory Protection Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it is incorporating new assigned protection factors (APFs) for respiratory protection programs.

APFs are numbers that indicate the level of work place respiratory protection that a respirator or class of respirators is expected to provide to employees when used as part of an effective respiratory protection program. An APF table is being included in the final standard to guide employers in the selection of air-purifying, powered air-purifying, supplied-air (or airline respirator), and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) respirators.

The APF final rule completes the revision of the reserve sections of OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard as published in 1998; with this addition, the Respiratory Protection Standard will now contain provisions necessary for a comprehensive respiratory protection program, including selection and use of respirators, training, medical evaluation, and fit testing.

"This standard helps employers and employees select the right respirator for the job," said assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "And with the right respirator employees will have adequate protection to be safe and healthy at work."

OSHA's final respiratory standard on APFs will be published in the Aug. 24, 2006 Federal Register.

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