Voluntary Use of Air Purifying Respirators
Revised January 2023
This program is provided for those individuals who wish to wear respiratory protection, but are not required to do so under any OSHA standard or by UNR as the work conditions do not warrant the use of a respirator.
OSHA requires the following information be provided to anyone considering the voluntary use of a respirator.
Appendix D 1910.134 (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard.
Respirators are an effective method of protection against designated hazards when properly selected and worn. Respirator use is encouraged, even when exposures are below the exposure limit, to provide an additional level of comfort and protection for workers. However, if a respirator is used improperly or not kept clean, the respirator itself can become a hazard to the worker. Sometimes, workers may wear respirators to avoid exposures to hazards, even if the amount of hazardous substance does not exceed the limits set by OSHA standards. If your employer provides respirators for your voluntary use, or if you provide your own respirator, you need to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard.
You should do the following:
- Read and heed all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care, and warnings regarding the respirators limitations.
- Choose respirators certified for use to protect against the contaminant of concern. NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, certifies respirators. A label or statement of certification should appear on the respirator or respirator packaging. It will tell you what the respirator is designed for and how much it will protect you.
- Do not wear your respirator into atmospheres containing contaminants for which your respirator is not designed to protect against. For example, a respirator designed to filter dust particles will not protect you against gases, vapors, or very small solid particles of fumes or smoke.
- Keep track of your respirator so that you do not mistakenly use someone else’s respirator.
In Addition, voluntary respirator users should understand the following:
If voluntary respirator use involves any type of respirator beyond that of an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, you must be medically evaluated prior to its use (if uncertain, contact EH&S).
Respirator Cleaning, Storage, and Maintenance
- The following procedure is for the use of an N95 filtering facepiece respirator. Discard the mask upon observation of damaged or missing parts or if the mask becomes contaminated with dust or fluids. This may need to be done at the end of each shift (if you are uncertain, contact EH&S). If the mask is taken off and will be stored for further use, the respirator must be stored properly and not left out in the work area. Store in clean, dry, air tight container.
- The following procedure is to be used when cleaning and disinfecting respirators that have replaceable cartridges and/or replaceable filters:
- Disassemble respirator, removing any filters, canisters, or cartridges.
- Wash the facepiece and associated parts in a mild detergent with warm water. Do not use organic solvents.
- Rinse completely in clean warm water.
- Air dry in a clean area.
- Reassemble the respirator and replace any defective parts.
- Place in a clean, dry plastic bag or other air tight container.
- Do not use the respirator if it is damaged or is missing parts.
Program Contact Person: Crista Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 327-5055