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(Who Has to Use Respirators)

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The OSHA respirator standard, 29 CFR 1910.134 applies to all occupational airborne exposures to contaminated air, except M. tuberculosis, where the employee is:
  1. Exposed to a hazardous level of an airborne contaminant; or
  2. Required by the employer to wear respirators; or
  3. Permitted to wear respirators.

Occupational airborne exposures to M. tuberculosis will be covered by 29 CFR 1910.139 until OSHA issues its final standard on M. tuberculosis.

Four major duties are imposed by each of these standards. These duties are:

  • Use engineering controls where feasible to control the hazard;
  • Provide an appropriate respirator;
  • Ensure the use of an appropriate respirator; and
  • Institute a respiratory protection program that complies with the rest of the standard.

1910.134(a) Permissible Practice.


This section applies to General Industry (part 1910), Shipyards (part 1915), Marine Terminals (part 1917), Longshoring (part 1918), and Construction (part 1926).

(a) Permissible practice.

(a)(1) In the control of those occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors, the primary objective shall be to prevent atmospheric contamination. This shall be accomplished as far as feasible by accepted engineering control measures (for example, enclosure or confinement of the operation, general and local ventilation, and substitution of less toxic materials). When effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted, appropriate respirators shall be used pursuant to this section.

(a)(2) Respirators shall be provided by the employer when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the employee. The employer shall provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended. The employer shall be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a respiratory protection program which shall include the requirements outlined in paragraph (c) of this section.

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