Do disposable respirators need to be fit tested or only reusable half and full face pieces?

Q:

Do disposable respirators need to be fit tested or only reusable half and full face pieces?

A:

Despite the fact that disposable respirators are (by definition) to be discarded after use, they may still be subject to the same standards as reusable pieces.

In fact, disposable respirators, like dust masks, are addressed in OSHA's respiratory protection standard (1910.134). This means that even disposable respirators may need to be fit tested to be compliant with the standard.

The most important consideration in determining if a disposable respirator is subject to the same standards as reusable face masks is whether or not it is mandatory or voluntary for the job site (learn the 7 Things to Know About Choosing the Right PPE for the Job). If an employee voluntarily wears a disposable respirator, the only action required for compliance is that he or she is provided with a copy of Appendix D of the OSHA respiratory protection standard.

On the other hand, if a disposable respirator is mandatory for a job site due to exposure to a substance exceeding the permissible exposure limit (PEL), then it is subject to all of the aspects of the respiratory protection standard including fit testing. If the mask is mandatory PPE, it is important to ensure that it is functioning properly for the individual employee.

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Written by Tracy Broyles
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Ms. Broyles is a blogger, author, and freelance writer specializing in lifestyle, health, and legal topics. When she's not writing, you can find Ms. Broyles brushing up on her research, baking peculiar confections, cosplaying, or coaching her kids on the ball field.   Full Bio