Voluntary Respirator Use

Amherst College will provide filtering facepiece respirators (dust masks) at no cost to the employee for those who wish to wear them as a precaution, as long as the atmospheric conditions are not as such as would not require the use of one, such as for oxygen deficiency, silica (including concrete) or other potentially hazardous conditions. 

If a College employee would like to voluntarily wear an air purifying respirator they must notify Amherst College Environmental Health & Safety. The OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) requires all persons who are required to wear an air purifying respirator to receive training, a medical evaluation by a licensed physician or qualified health professional, and a respirator fit test.  

Any person who voluntarily wears a filtering facepiece respirator must reveiw and sign the following mandatory health and safety information per the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.134

Appendix D to Sec. 1910.134 (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard 

Respirators (including dustmasks) 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 Amherst College provides respirators for your voluntary use, so you need to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard. 

Respirators, including tight fitting dust maks and N95's are often difficult to breath through, which increases strain on the heart and lungs. Persons using this type of respirator should be aware of the potential hazards and risks to avoid potential health related issues. 

You should do the following: 

1. Read and heed all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care, and warnings regarding the respirators limitations. 

2. Choose respirators (with the assistance of Environmental Health and Safety) certified for use to protect against the contaminant of concern. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 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. 

3. Do not wear your respirator into atmospheres containing contaminants for which your respirator is not designed to protect against, or in oxygen deficient atmospheres. 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. 

4. Keep track of your respirator, do not share with others, and replace them when they become dirty, deformed, or wet. 

5. Do not wear or continue to wear any respirator (even voluntarily) if it casues you discomfort or makes it difficult to breathe. If the respirator poses any problems, leave the area, remove the mask, and contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. 

[63 FR 1152, Jan. 8, 1998; 63 FR 20098, April 23, 1998]
I have read and understand the material stated above, and will comply with the guidelines established in this policy regarding dust mask/respirator usage.

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