Environmental Health and Safety

Safety Programs > Respiratory Protection Policy


Respiratory Protection Policy



The State University of New York College at New Paltz, in an effort to protect its employees from occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors will attempt to limit these exposures by using engineering controls where feasible. In the event that engineering controls will not be adequate, this respiratory protection plan policy and procedures will be followed. This is a summarized version of the SUNY New Paltz Respirator Program.


Engineering Controls

Processes that cause unhealthy breathing atmospheres will be performed in areas that minimize the potential of exposure to the workers performing the process as well as the people in the surrounding area. General ventilation is the amount of control for indoor processes. Local ventilation consists of welding hoods, chemical fume hoods, and laboratory and studio local ventilation.

Isolation of the work area is another engineering control. Asbestos removal requires this type of containment.


Respirator Use

Respirators will be used when required to protect the employee from exposure to a breathing atmosphere that could cause adverse health effects and specifically:

  1. Various standard working procedures require respirator protection.
  2. Code Rule 56 of the New York State Department of Labor Laws require respirator protection if the action level of .01 fibers/cc is reached.
  3. Respirator protection will be worn any time the PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit) is exceeded in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1000 codes of Federal Regulations.


Respirator Selection

Respirators will be selected on the basis of the hazard to which the worker is exposed. The College will provide all respirators used on campus.

Example of assignments requiring the use of a respirator in the absence of good engineering controls such as ventilation exhaust and the type provided are:

  1. Asbestos Abatement – 3M respirator with HEPA Filter.
  2. Spray Painting - 3M Half-Face Masks with HEPA Filters with Organic Vapor.
  3. Metal fume working – 3M Half face with HEPA filter.
  4. Fine Dust -3M Half face with HEPA filter.


Respirator Issue

No employee will be permanently issued a respirator without first being given a doctors clearance that the employee has no medical condition that would prevent him from performing the assignment while wearing the respiratory protection. All respirators will be issued only with the prior approval of the Environmental Health and Safety Office. SUNY New Paltz does not assign any employees to areas or assignments that require routine use of respiratory protection. Employee must fill out a Medical Evaluation form and submit to EH&S so that a licensed Health Care Practitioner can review. Based upon the review more medical testing may be required prior to approval of person to wear a respirator

OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire – (submit to EH&S Department in a seal envelope with your name and department and contact number for any questions on outside of envelope.)



Employees will be given training on the proper use of the individual respirator they are issued. This training will consist of proper selection, pre-use tests, and use limitations of the respirator. Care, cleaning and proper storage of the respirator will be covered during training.


Fit Tests

All employees issued a respirator will be fit tested for that respirator upon issue. Negative air respirators such as the 3M half Mask will be fit tested every twelve months. Tests will be made using the Bitrex test methods requiring the wearer to demonstrate a range of head motions that will insure no infiltration of the breathing area during normal working conditions.



Respirators cannot adequately protect a worker from all contaminants under all conditions. In general, the typical half-face air-purifying respirator can be used for protection in environments of up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL). However, the cartridges or canisters of air-purifying respirators have a limited capacity to protect against toxic gases and vapors in the air. If you detect an odor or taste, or feel your eyes or throat irritated, leave the hazardous area immediately and go to a safe area. The cartridge or canister on the respirator should be changed.



Air-purifying respirators (canisters or cartridges) do not provide oxygen. They should not be used in situations where the oxygen content in the air is questionable.


Only a secure and snug fit protects you, so make sure you have the right size respirator for your face. The shape of your face, facial hair and condition of your skin can affect your fit. Try various sizes until you find one where air does not leak in around the edges. You can test the respirator fit by placing the palms of your hands over the cartridges and breathing in for 4-8 seconds. If fit properly, the mask should suck in tightly around your face.


Voluntary use of disposable dust masks as per OSHA


(Contact EH&S for more information )dustmasks

from CFR 1910.134 Appendix D


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:

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 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.

3. 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.

4. Keep track of your respirator so that you do not mistakenly use someone else's respirator.


* Download Acrobat Reader Now!
ADA: convert PDF to text