The new American National Standard Practices for Respiratory Protection, Z88.2-2015, which was approved by ANSI on March 4, 2015, overcame significant challenges during the past two decades. The updates to the 1992 revision of Z88.2 were substantially delayed while professional disagreements over appropriate assigned protection factors (APFs) for air-purifying half-mask respirators were addressed through a lengthy appeals process. In December 2010, the ANSI Board of Standards Review Panel denied the final appeal and recommended that a new subcommittee start the review process. The new Z88.2 subcommittee was established in October 2011. It had the distinct advantage of the previous draft standard along with the many updates in related federal regulations and guidance documents, national consensus standards, and advances in relevant research. RELATED GUIDANCE AND REGULATIONS Subsequent to the ANSI approval of the 1992 version of Z88.2, NIOSH promulgated its final rule on Respiratory Protective Devices. That regulation updated performance standards for air-purifying particulate respirators, and NIOSH published several guidance documents addressing their selection, use, and limitations. OSHA revised its Respiratory Protection Standard in 1998. Later, the agency added definitions and requirements for APFs and Maximum Use Concentrations (MUCs). OSHA APFs were established after thorough evaluation of available peer-reviewed literature, including workplace protection factor studies, comments submitted to the public record, and testimony from hearings. Proper respirator selection is an important component of an effective respiratory protection program, and the OSHA APFs provide employers with necessary information for selecting respirators for employees exposed to airborne contaminants. OSHA also revised its fit-testing procedures in 2004. The agency published various guides in support of these updated regulations, including a guide on APFs. A recent update to the Department of Transportation’s specifications for shipping containers also informed the work of the Z88.2 subcommittee. Other national consensus standards considered in the preparation of Z88.2-2015 are listed in the “Resources” sidebar below​. The subcommittee considered a substantial body of research that was published after the 1992 revision of Z88.2. This information related to the proper use and performance of respiratory protection in general, including workplace and laboratory evaluations of NIOSH-approved particulate respirators and the effectiveness of fit-testing.
THE Z88.2 TIMELINE 1969: ANSI approves the first version of ANSI Z88.2, a revision of the respiratory protection portion of the American National Standard safety code for head, eye, and respiratory protection (ASA Z2.1-1959). 1980: ANSI publishes a revision of Z88.2, which introduces the subject of protection factors. 1992: A second revision of Z88.2 is published. 2002: Z88.2-1992 is withdrawn due to age. 2003: The Z88.2 subcommittee votes to approve a new revision, but the consensus required for publication of the standard is not reached due to disagreements over assigned protection factors (APFs). 2008: The full Z88 committee approves the formation of a new subcommittee, Z88.15, to address APFs separately. 2011: A new Z88.2 subcommittee is formed and the review process is restarted. 2015: The Z88 committee approves the latest revision of Z88.2.
UPDATES AND CHANGES The following examples illustrate significant updates made in Z88.2-2015. Approved Respirators Standards and annexes provide recommended practices associated with particulate respirators and their associated terms. In its Respiratory Protective Devices standard, NIOSH filter designations and efficiency levels identify N-series, R-series, P-series, and high efficiency (HE) PAPR filters. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters include HE PAPR filters, and N100, R100, and P100 non-powered air purifying respirator filters. Only HE PAPR filters and P100 filters are magenta color-coded. These approved respirators, which did not exist when Z88.2-1992 was approved, are addressed in sections of the 2015 revision on respirator classification, selection, and use, as well as in informative annexes. Assigned Protection Factors Definitions and terms were updated to be consistent with OSHA and NIOSH regulations, the ISO Respiratory Protective Devices standard, and the definitions adopted by the AIHA Respiratory Protection Committee. The term “assigned protection factor” was revised to emphasize that an APF is meaningful only when applied in a fully compliant respirator program. The definition of APF in the 2015 revision is: The minimum expected workplace level of respiratory ​protection that would be provided by a properly functioning and used respirator or a class of respirators to properly fitted and trained wearers when all elements of an effective respirator program are established and are being implemented. This standard references OSHA required APFs for use in respirator selection. Thus, it eliminates previous conflicting published recommendations among ANSI, NIOSH, and OSHA. An ANSI/ASSE Z88.15 subcommittee has been approved to review current research and published literature and update (where necessary) OSHA APFs, which are now nine years old. To support the importance of wearing the respirator during the full period of needed protection, a new annex addressing effective protection factors was added to the standard. The annex illustrates the substantial reduction of protection provided by the respirator when not used for even short periods of time in circumstances that require usage. Program Managers and Respirator Wearers The standard highlights the distinction between users (employers, respirator program managers, and others) from respirator wearers (the individuals who actually wear the respirators). Accordingly, the process of checking the fit of the respirator each time the respirator is donned is a role of the wearer. Previous versions of the standard referred to this responsibility as a “user seal check”; this term has been changed in the 2015 revision to “wearer seal check.” Guidance on wearer seal checks, which was a non-mandatory recommendation in the 1992 revision, is now a mandatory requirement. The section on Program Administration emphasizes the responsibilities of a single qualified individual to ensure the components of the respirator program are established and implemented. This section also adds a requirement for annual audits of the respirator program by the program administrator and periodic respirator program audits by a knowledgeable, objective person not directly associated with the program. The frequency of this outside audit should be determined by the size and complexity of the respirator program and previous audit findings. These sections help clarify the various responsibilities of respirator us​ers (employers, program managers) and respirator wearers. This approach is consistent with ISO in its establishment of an international respiratory protective device standard.
Additional Updates Additional updates in in Z88.2-2015 that relate to mandatory standards are listed below:
  • Expands the definition of the term “confined space” to be consistent with the OSHA confined spaces standard and ANSI/ASSE Z117.1, Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces.
  • Updates the term “exposure limit” to “occupational exposure limit.”
  • Adds the term “filtering facepieces” and eliminates the term “disposable RPD.”
  • Qualifies the term “fit factor” to recognize that qualitative fit factors are validated to 100, and clarifies that if a fit factor greater than 100 is required, a quantitative fit-test method should be used to select a properly fitting respirator as defined by ANSI Z88.10-2010, Respirator Fit Test Methods.
  • Adds the term “maximum use concentration.”
  • Adds the term “physician or other licensed health care professional” (PLHCP).
  • Adds the term “written record,” which refers to either paper or electronic records.
  • Reorganizes standard operating procedures (SOPs) and requires special considerations for respirators used for emergency escape, including for personnel assigned to the work area, for visitors entering those work areas, and for anticipated emergency use.
  • Adds a section on respirator selection for bioaerosols.
  • Updates respirator selection for the combined effect of altitude and reduced percentage of oxygen for un-acclimatized individuals.
  • Updates sections on oxygen deficiency, including the addition of a table indicating what types of respirators are required to work safely in increasingly dangerous oxygen-deficient environments.​
Informative Annexes In addition, newly added annexes provide information on classifying, selecting, and using respirators; establishing cartridge/canister change schedules; determining required fit factor values for respirator fit-testing; calculating effective protection factors; complying with compressed air dew point requirements; using compressed breathing air equipment and systems; and designating positive-pressure respirators. These annexes emphasize important practical information on these complex topics. COMMENTS WELCOME A related article comparing OSHA’s respiratory protection program element standards to the 2015 revision of Z88.2 will appear in an upcoming issue of The Synergist. In the meantime, readers’ comments and suggestions for​ additional topics, updates, or corrections to Z88.2 are welcome. These comments are important for initiating the next Z88.2 subcommittee and standard revision process. Please send comments to Richard W. Metzler or James S. Johnson. RICHARD W. METZLER, MSIE, a consultant based in Houston, Pa., is chair of the ANSI/ASSE Z88.2 subcommittee. He can be reached at JAMES S. JOHNSON, PhD, CIH, QEP, is a consultant with JSJ and Associates in Pleasanton, Calif., and chair of the ANSI/ASSE Z88 committee. He can be reached at DAVID L. SPELCE, MS, CIH (1997–2015), served as the Navy’s res​pirator expert from 1987 to 2015 and was the Navy’s official liaison to the ANSI Respirator Committee and the ANSI respirator subcommittees. He can be reached at TIMOTHY R. REHAK, PE, is a general engineer with the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) and a member of the ANSI/ASSE Z88.2 subcommittee. He can be reached at
RESOURCES Since the Z88.2 standard’s 1992 revision, a trove of regulations and standards related to respiratory protection has been published. The Z88.2 subcommittee considered the following regulations and standards in its deliberations over the 2015 update: AIHA Respirator Performance Terminology (PDF, 2002). ANSI/AIHA Z88.10-2010, Respirator Fit T​est Methods ANSI/AIHA Z88.6-2006, Respiratory Protection-Respirator Use, Physical Qualifications for Personnel CGA C-7-2011 (Compressed Gas Association), Guide to the Preparation of Precautionary Labeling and Marking of Compressed Gas Containers CGA G-7.1-2011, Commodity Specification for Air Department of Transportation: specifications for shipping containers. ISO 16972-2010, Respiratory protective devices—Terms, definitions, graphical symbols and units of measurement ​NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services (2013) NIOSH final rule on Respiratory Protective Devices (1995) OSHA: Respiratory Protection Standard (1998) OSHA: Fit Testing Procedures (Appendix A, Mandatory) (2006) OSHA: Assigned Protection Factors for the Revised Respiratory Protection Standard (2009) United States Pharmacopoeia 2009 for medical or breathing oxygen​
What’s New in
An Introduction to ANSI/ASSE Z88.2-​2015, Practices for Respiratory Protection
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