Respirator Program: how it works

1. Contact Risk Management & Safety to conduct a Risk Assessment

Contact Risk Management & Safety (RM&S) to request respirator use. We will contact you to set up a time to perform a risk assessment of your work. The risk assessment determines whether or not you are required to wear a respirator, whether wearing a respirator will be done voluntarily or if additional sampling is needed to make a proper determination. Always always consider adding engineering and/or administrative controls to eliminate the need for respirator use.  

Please do not complete or submit an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire before a risk assessment is conducted. Medical clearance, fit testing, and training is required for all respirator users following the risk assessment.

2. Complete a Medical Questionnaire Form

After a risk assessment has been conducted, the employee may be asked to complete an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire and follow the instructions on the form for submission. A link to this form is in the Quick Links above.

UVM's occupational health care provider (OHCP) will review the medical questionaire and determine if there any potential restrictions or health risks to the employee, and decide whether further clinical evaluation is necessary to protect the employee's health. OHCP will establish a clearance status, and forward the results to the UVM Respirator Program Manager and the employee. The Respirator Program Manager will contact you by email with the medical evaluation results.

3. Training

Online or in-person training is required once it is determined that you will wear a respirator. Login for online training here.

4. Fit Testing

Once you are medically cleared to wear a respirator, contact Risk Management & Safety to schedule initial fit testing prior to wearing a respirator.  Fit testing is conducted at the Radiation Safety Office in Rowell building, room 004. Contact RM&S at 656-2570 or to set up an appointment to be fit tested. 

Each fit test takes approximately 30 minutes. Please be punctual, and if you cannot keep your appointment then call ahead. A technician will be scheduled to conduct your test on the day/time given to you – please be respectful of this.

Preparation for your test:

  • Please bring your personal respirator (if applicable) for fit testing.
  • Notify us in advance if you wear facial hair. If not, come to the appointment “Clean Shaven”.
  • Avoid wearing excessive makeup.
  • If you are a smoker please refrain from smoking at least an hour before your test.
  • Please bring proof of medical clearance

What is a Fit Test?

A fit test assesses the suitability of a size and brand of mask to fit an individual wearer. There are 2 categories of fit test:

  • A Quantitative fit test (QNFT) is an assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.
  • A Qualitative fit test (QLFT) is a pass/fail fit test to assess the adequacy of respirator fit that relies on the individual’s response to a test agent e.g. irritant smoke.

What to expect:

  • To be shown how to put on a respirator, how it should be positioned on the face, how to set strap tension and how to determine an acceptable fit.
  • To pick an acceptable, correctly fitting respirator.
  • To assess the comfort and adequacy of the respirator fit.
  • To conduct a user seal check.
  • To perform a series of test exercises while wearing the respirator: 1) breathe normally, 2) breathe deeply, 3) turn head side to side, 4) move head up and down slowly, 5) read the VOSHA rainbow passage, 6) grimace, 7) jog in place (or alternative to simulate physical demands of work on the device), 8) breathe normally.


4. Annual Respirator Use Requirements

Upon completion of all UVM Respiratory Protection Program requirements, retain copies of all forms/certifications (e.g. medical clearance approval, fit-test record) in your lab safety notebook.

Medical clearance, fit testing and training is an annual requirement for respirator users at UVM, and/or when any of the following criteria are met:

  • Whenever an employee receives a new or different respirator,
  • After dental surgery or facial surgery,
  • If there is weight gain or loss greater than 20% and at any time.
*Those using disposable respirators under OSHA's voluntary use program are not required to complete annual training.