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Respiratory Protection/Fit Test Program

Safety Office


This program applies to all University employees who require respiratory protection while performing any activity connected to the University of Winnipeg.

The Program includes the following elements: 

  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Selection of appropriate respirators and procedures for cleaning, inspecting and storing respirators
  • Respirator Fit Testing including provision of general medical screening for employees using respiratory protection prior to respirator fit testing
  • Training and education
  • Records maintenance
  • Program evaluation

Elimination or reduction of respiratory hazards through substitution or engineering controls is preferred.  However, there may be instances in which the use of appropriate respiratory protection is required.    

Respirators protect the user in two ways:

  1. By the removal of contaminants from the air which include particulate respirators which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases.
  2. By supplying clean respirable air from other source which include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) using own air supply.

Responsibilities:

Principal Investigators/Faculty/Supervisors shall:

  • Identify situations where respirators may be required;
  • In consultation with the Safety Office, assess for respiratory hazards;
  • In consultation with the Safety Office, determine the type of respiratory protection required for the specific respiratory hazard;
  • Provide individuals with appropriate respiratory protection;
  • Ensure that general medical screening, training and fit testing of employees is completed prior to assigning employees a task that requires a respirator;
  • Ensure that employees use the respirators provided to them in accordance with the instructions and the training received;
  • Ensure that respirator users are clean-shaven and that there is no object or material that would interfere with the seal or operation of the respirator;
  • Notify the Safety Office of concerns from the users, changes in processes, equipment, or operating procedures that may have an impact on environmental conditions and protection requirements.

Respirator Users shall:

  • Complete the general medical screening for respiratory protection (this medical screening will provide sufficient information for the fit test technician to determine whether medical surveillance by a health care professional is required prior to fit testing).  This medical screening information will be reviewed by the fit test technician and be returned to the user upon review.
  • Wear appropriate respiratory protection at all times when performing tasks or working in an area where respiratory hazards exist;
  • Inspect the respirator prior to each use in accordance with the training received;
  • Clean,maintain and store the respirator in accordance with the training received and the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Perform negative and positive pressure check after each donning of a tight-fitting respirator;
  • Report any damage or malfunction of the respirator to their supervisor;
  • Report to their supervisor or Safety Office any condition or change that may impact on their ability to use a respirator safely;
  • Be clean shaven and ensure that no object or material interferes with the seal or operation of the respirator;
  • Use the respirator in accordance with the written instructions and training received.

Safety Office shall:

  • Develop and administer the program;
  • Provide technical advice and recommendations regarding assessments for respiratory hazards;
  • Assist supervisors in determining the type of respiratory protection required for the specific respiratory hazard(s);
  • Provide training and education, fit testing and evaluation of Respiratory Protection Program effectiveness;
  • Ensure that procedures for medical screening are established to safeguard the privacy of medical information;
  • Update the program to maintain consistency with regulatory criteria and consensus standards;
  • Create and maintain training and fit testing records.

Selection of appropriate respirators shall be based on the following criteria:

  • Health of the employee and ability to wear a respirator via general medical screening;
  • Review of the hazard assessment;
  • Existing legislation and standards;
  • Work requirements and conditions;
  • Duration of exposure;
  • Characteristics and limitations of respirators;
  • Respirator protection factors.

 Respirator Fit Testing:

  • Prior to fit testing, the individual will be required to complete a general medical screen questionnaire checklist indicating whether the individual may have difficulties in wearing a respirator;
  • Employees must pass an appropriate quantitative fit test when using a respirator with a tight-fitting face piece;
  • The fit testing shall be conducted or coordinated by the Safety Office;
  • A fit test shall be carried out prior to initial use of a tight-fitting respirator, every 2 years, whenever there is a change in the make/model of the respirator, or where there is a change in the individual which will affect the fit of the respirator (i.e. facial scaring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, weight change, etc);
  • The employee shall be fit tested with the same make, model, style and size of respirator to be used during work;
  • The fit test shall be performed only on employees who are clean-shaven where the face piece seals to the skin;
  • When an employee is required to wear other personal protective equipment, such as eye, face, head and hearing protection during his/her work, the same protective equipment shall be worn during the fit test to ensure that it is compatible with the respirator and does not break the facial seal.

Training & Education:

  • All employees whose work requires the use of a respirator shall receive appropriate training and education;
  • Training shall be provided by the Safety Office or coordinated by the Safety Office;
  • Refresher training shall be provided every two years to all respirator users;
  • Records of the training shall be updated and maintained by the Safety Office;
  • Training in the use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), if required, shall be provided by a qualified external trainer.

The training shall include the following:

  • Why respiratory protection is necessary;
  • The limitations and capabilities of respiratory equipment;
  • Respiratory hazard assessment;
  • Logic for selecting a particular type of respirator;
  • How to inspect, put on and remove a respirator, and how to perform user seal checks;
  • Procedures for maintenance and storage of respiratory equipment;
  • How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of the respirator.

Records Maintenance

Supervisors shall maintain records of the following:

  • Training for employees under their supervision
  • Respirator selection
  •  

Safety Office shall maintain the records of the following:

- Fit testing, which shall consist of:

  • The name and identification of the employee tested
  • Type of test performed, make, model and size of the respirator fitted
  • Date of the fit test
  • Result of the fit test
  • Name of the person conducting the fit test

- Training

- Hazard assessment

- Respirator selection

- Program evaluation 

Program Evaluation:

The employer, through the Safety Office and the Workplace Safety and Health Committee, will review the program and evaluate its effectiveness every two years.   The review will be recorded and kept for 5 years from the date of review.

If you require an assessment or respirator fit test, your supervisor must email the Safety Office at safety@uwinnipeg.ca