OSHA Considers Two Fit-testing Protocols for Respiratory Protection Standard
In a notice of proposed rulemaking issued on Oct. 7, OSHA proposes amending its respiratory protection standard to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols that would apply to general, shipyard, and construction industry employers. OSHA’s existing standard allows for the submission of new fit-test protocols for agency approval. This proposed rulemaking focuses on new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators and filtering facepiece respirators submitted by TSI Incorporated.
According to OSHA’s press release, the proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount protocol but require fewer exercises and a different sampling sequence. If the proposed rulemaking is approved, the modified PortaCount protocols would be alternatives to the quantitative fit-testing protocols already listed in OSHA’s respiratory protection standard.
OSHA states that its proposed rulemaking would “allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees.” Employers would not be required to update or replace current fit-testing methods as long as the methods currently in use meet existing standards.
The agency seeks feedback on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace. Comments are due by Dec. 6, 2016.
For more information on OSHA’s proposed rulemaking or how to submit comments, see the Federal Register notice.