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OSHA revises respiratory protection rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its existing respiratory proteciton standard and added definitions and requirements for assigned protection factors (APFs) and maximum use concentrations (MUCs).

When OSHA published the final respiratory proteciton standard--29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.134--in 1998, it noted that the revised standard was to "serve as a 'building block' standard with respect to future standards that may contain respiratory proteciton requirements."

The 1998 standard established the minimum elements of a comprehensive respiratory program. The only parts missing were the now finalized APF and MUC provisions.

APF is the workplace level of respiratory proteciton that a respirator or class of respirators is expected to provide when an employer implements a continuing, effective respiratory proteciton program.

MUC is the maximum atmospheric concentration of a hazardous substance from which an employee can be expected to be protected when wearing a respirator. It is determined by the APF of the respirator or class of respirators and the exposure limit of the hazardous substance.

MUC can be calcuated by multiplying the specified APF by the OSHA exposure limit. When no OSHA exposure limit is available, an employer must determine and MUC based on all available information and informed professional judgment.

Employers must use the APFs from Table 1 of 29 CFR 1910.134 to select a respirator that meets or exceeds the required level of protection.

These revisions also supersede the respirator selection provisions of the following substance-specific standards:

  • Acrylonitrile--29 CFR 1819,1945
  • Asbestos--19 CFR 1910.1001, 29 CFR 1915.1001 and 29 CFR 1926.1101
  • Benzene--29 CFR 1910.1028
  • Cadmium--29 CFR 1910.1027 and 29 CFR 1926.1127
  • Coke oven emissions--29 CFR 1910.1029
  • Cotton dust--29 CFR 1910.1043
  • 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane--29 CFR 1910.1044
  • Ethylene oxide--29 CFR 1910.1047
  • Formaldehyde--29 CFR 1910.1048
  • Inorganic arsenic--29 CFR 1910.1018
  • Lead--29 CFR 1910.1025 and 29 CFR 1926.62
  • Methylene chloride--29 CFR 1910.1052
  • Methylenedianiline--29 CFR 1910.1050 and 29 CFR 1926.60
  • Vinyl chloride--29 CFR 1910.107

This final rule becomes effective November 22, 2006.