Respirators are worn to protect the user from airborne hazards such as particulates (dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, smoke, sprays) and gases/vapors, when other engineering controls, such as a chemical fume hood, are not available or adequate. The use of respirators is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) through the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) and the UVM Respiratory Protection Program.
Everyone who wears a respirator at UVM, including N95 masks, must be enrolled in the Respiratory Protection Program, which is managed by the UVM Occupational Health Program
The Respirator Protection Program is multi-step process designed to comply with the OSHA Standard. DO NOT wear a respirator at work unless you have completed all of the required steps of the Program. Improper use of respirators can be dangerous to your health.
If you have any questions about the Respiratory Protection Program please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Respiratory Protection Program Flow Chart (PDF)
- UVM Written Respiratory Protection Program (PDF)
- OSHA Regulations on Respiratory Protection 29 CFR 1910.134
How to Enroll in the Respiratory Protection Program
1. Contact RM&S Staff
Email RM&S staff at email@example.com. A staff member will then contact you to set up a Hazard Assessment of your work. The Hazard Assessment determines if you have to wear a respirator, the type of respirator that is needed, or if additional sampling is needed to make a proper determination.
***NOTE: If you need to wear a disposable respirator (e.g. N95, P100, etc) because you are assigned tasks included in UVM’s SARS CoV-2 Preparedness and Response Plan, you do not need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get a hazard assessment of the work.
2. Obtain Medical Clearance
If the results of the Hazard Assessment indicate that you are required to wear a respirator at work, the next step is to obtain medical clearance. You must fill out and submit an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (PDF). UVM's occupational health care provider will review the questionnaire and determine if you are medically cleared to wear a respirator. The Respirator Program Manager will contact you by email with the medical evaluation results and forward you a copy.
3. Get a Fit Test
Once you are medically cleared to wear a respirator, you must be fit tested to ensure proper fit and size of your respirator.
***NOTE: To better manage our resources and provide effective service across the entire UVM campus during the COVID-19 response, you will be contacted directly by Risk Management & Safety with further instructions on scheduling your fit test.
Each fit test takes approximately 30 minutes. If you cannot keep your scheduled appointment time, please give advanced notice. A technician is scheduled to conduct your fit test on the day/time given to you – please be respectful of this.
During the fit test, you will be shown how to put on a respirator, how to achieve a comfortable fit, and how to conduct a user seal check.
Additional fit tests should be scheduled during the year if you have had significant visible changes to your facial structure that could impact fit (dental surgery, significant weight loss/gain) or you are unable to get a good seal during a user seal check.
How To Prepare For Your Fit Test
- Bring your personal respirator (if applicable).
- Bring proof of medical clearance.
- You must come to the appointment clean-shaven – no facial hair. Please let us know in advance if this is not possible.
- Avoid wearing excessive makeup.
- If you are a smoker, please refrain from smoking at least an hour before your test.
4. Complete Training
Online or in-person training is required before you can wear your respirator. You will be trained on the use, care, and maintenance for the type of respirator you have been assigned. Login for online training.
5. Stay Up To Date On Program Requirements
The Medical Evaluation Questionnaire must be submitted every three years. Certain employees may require more frequent medical evaluations, such as employees in the Asbestos Management Program, the Lead/Lead Based Paint Program, or employees who are covered by the OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard. Fit testing and training are annual requirements and must be completed every year. These program elements are required for all respirator users at UVM - except for personnel who have been approved for voluntary use of disposable N95 respirators under OSHA's voluntary use program.
The Respirator Program Manager keeps copies of the medical clearance status, fit test results, and training records. For laboratory use of respirators, such records will be maintained in the Lab Safety Notebook. The employee record is available to the respective employee, the immediate Supervisor and any individual who has received approval from RM&S.
Voluntary Use of Respirators
The UVM Respiratory Protection Program is intended to protect employees against recognized health hazards. However, an employee may be irritated by the presence of non-hazardous air contaminants, such as dust, pollen or dander. In this case, the University will permit an employee to wear a disposable N95 respirator for comfort reasons and will consider this Voluntary Use under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134(c)(2).
Before an employee is able to wear a disposable N95 respirator on a voluntary basis, RM&S staff first must perform a hazard assessment to determine if voluntary use is appropriate.
Once an employee is approved for voluntary respirator use, the employee must:
- Complete the online “Voluntary Disposable Respirator Use” training, which includes OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 Appendix D and;
- Report any changes, questions or concerns in your work environment that may affect respirator use to your supervisor.
Voluntary use of disposable N95 respirators does not require medical clearance, fit testing, or annual training.