Key Elements/Check Points
The following information is intended to highlight major elements and check points involved in setting up a respiratory protection program and identify additional resources.
Employers who decide to use respiratory protection to help lower worker exposures to hazardous airborne contaminants must follow all requirements of the Australian/New Zealand (AS/NZS) Respiratory Protection Standard 1715.
The Respiratory Protection Standard AS/NZS 1715 states "Where respiratory protection equipment is required to be worn a written respiratory protection program shall be established." The respiratory program involves several check points that include appointing an administrator, risk assessment, respiratory selection process, training through to record keeping and program evaluation.
Respirator selection is based on hazard identification, your personal exposure levels, comparison to the relevant workplace exposure level limits and/or any local regulations or guidelines.
Other factors to consider are other relevant workplace and user factors e.g. hot environment, health conditions, confined work spaces, other PPE requirements etc.
As per Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 1715:2009 section 6.1 Medical Assessment) "Persons who are routinely required to wear respirators should have an initial medial assessment prior to use to deteremine if they are able to wear respirators."
As per Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 1715:2009) an individual shall be fit tested prior to initial use, whenever there is a change in your facial characteristics or other features which may affect the facial seal of the respirator and should be repeated annually thereafter. Individuals issued powered air purifying respirators and supplied air respirators with loose-fitting facepieces, hoods or helmets are not subject to respirator fit testing.
Training shall be provided for employees who are required to use respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
This is best conducted by a person who is trained in selection, use and maintence of RPE e.g. a consultant, RPE manufacturer or supplier.
The training must be comprehensive, understandable so the user can demonstrate competenecy in the use of their RPE.