OSHA Respiratory Protection Program
First: know that if you have any employees wearing respirators in your practice, OSHA requires that you comply with the respiratory protection standard. Both the respirator fit test and the user seal check are essential to be compliant with the OSHA respiratory protection standard.
Why would you want to be compliant with OSHA? Because practice owners are being fined for failure to comply with the respiratory protection standard. For example, in September 2020, OSHA fined a Massachusetts-based dentist $9,500. The reason: noncompliance with the respiratory protection standard.
What is a user seal check?
Every user must conduct a seal check every time they don (put on) a respirator. The seal check ensures the respirator is properly sealed to the employee’s face, so there is no way for the employee to breathe in hazards.
While it’s certainly possible that only one person in your practice will be trained to conduct a fit test, every respirator user should be trained in how to complete a user seal check. Train your workers to form a habit of conducting a user seal check every time they put on a respirator, because it’s required by OSHA.
Also, train your workers to visually inspect the structural integrity of their respirators. This is especially important when it comes to reusing and extending the use of respirators. Over time, the structure of the respirator could deteriorate. Your employees should know when they should throw away a respirator, rather than use it.
What is a respirator fit test?
For in-depth details about fit tests, check out our fit test blog post. Most importantly: the fit test isn’t done every time the user puts on a respirator, the way the seal check is.
The fit test is designed to ensure the respirator fits the employee’s face. Oftentimes, the fit of the respirator won’t change. However, in a case where the employee gains or loses a lot of weight, the fit might change.
The fit test must be completed initially (before the employee starts wearing the respirator). It needs to be completed for every user required to wear a respirator. If an employee voluntarily wears a respirator, you do not need to conduct a fit test for that employee.
The fit test must be completed by someone who was trained to conduct a fit test.
Usually, under the OSHA respiratory protection standard, fit tests must be completed annually after the initial fit test. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual requirement has been temporarily rescinded by OSHA. But only if you complete the initial fit test.
Need help with your respiratory protection compliance?
The respiratory protection standard is new for many healthcare and dental employees. Since new COVID-19 laws and guidance have made more healthcare and dental employees required to wear respirators, compliance is essential. Not only to avoid OSHA fines, but also to protect your employees from COVID-19.
Smart Training’s learning management system (LMS) provides the easiest and fastest way to create your written Respiratory Protection Program. It will take you 15-20 minutes to set up. You will also receive online respirator training for users and administrators. After training, your program administrator will know how to conduct a fit test. Your other employees will know how to conduct a user seal check.
Check out our blog post, which details the easy process of setting up your respiratory protection program on our LMS. The respiratory protection program feature is only available to Dental Platinum+ clients, Dental Essentials clients, and Complete Medical Compliance clients.
Request a demo here if you have none of the above plans and still want respiratory protection.