NC STATE Home Page NC STATE UNIVERSITY - Environmental Health and Safety 2620 Wolf Village Way Cmpus Box 8007, Raleigh NC 27695  Phone 919.515.7915 FAX 919.515.6307 NC STATE Home Page



Respiratory Protection Program

The Environmental Health & Safety Center is committed to maintaining a workplace free of injury and illness, and making every effort to protect the health of staff, faculty and students from harmful airborne contaminants.

In accordance with federal laws, protection from inhaling harmful substances should be accomplished through engineering controls such as ventilation or substitution with a less hazardous chemical. When this is not feasible, or if the exposures are brief and intermittent, a respirator may be recommended.

The Respiratory Protection Program is comprised of three procedures: an assessment of workplace chemical exposure, medical approval, and respirator fit-testing and training. A workplace exposure assessment is needed to identify harmful airborne contaminants, their extent and magnitude, and to offer recommendations on how to control them. Results of the assessment are used in determining the correct respirator and cartridges to be used. Before allowing an employee to wear a respirator, the employee's health status is to be reviewed by a physician. All employees (except those needing to use SCBA for emergency response, and those required to wear a N-95 respirator) needing to use respirators will be seen by Student Health Services' Occupational Medical Program. For all Respirator Approval Exams, (except for SCBA use for emergency response, and those required to wear a N-95 respirator) the following forms are sent to Student Health in a sealed envelope:

Once Student Health receives these forms they will contact the employee to set up an exam, Respirator medical approval is required every three years for current respirator users. Please refer to the following chart for specific requirements.

Employees requesting an annual SCBA medical for emergency response need only complete an exam request form and send to Student Health. Student Health will schedule the exam.

Employees required to wear a N-95 respirator will need to complete only a Confidential Medical Questionnaire.

New respirator wearers should contact EHSC to schedule a fit-test and training session. Current respirator wearers including those using N-95 respirators, are required to receive training and fit-testing on an annual basis. Refer to Respirator Training for a schedule of classes. The training program ensures that the new user will be thoroughly familiar with the need, use, limitations, inspection, fit checks and maintenance of the equipment.

New Employee Half/Full face
     (cartridge and filter)
Powered Air Purifying
Respirator PAPR
Supplied Air/Airline
Initial Exam-Class I
SCBA Cylinder changing Initial Exam-Class I
SCBA Emergency response Initial Exam-Class III
N-95 respirator Medical Questionnaire

Current Employee
Half/Full face
     (cartridge and filter)
Powered Air Purifying
Respirator PAPR
Supplied Air/Airline
Medical Exam every three years
SCBA - Cylinder changing Medical Exam every three years
SCBA - Emergency response Class III exam every year
N-95 respirator Medical Questionnaire

Respirator Inspection & Maintenance
  • Inspection - Your respirator should be inspected before each use, after each use, and during cleaning and sanitizing. During your inspection, check the condition of the face piece, straps, valves, filter and/or cartridge elements, air hose (for RACAL an d 3M PAPR units), and protective lens (full face or units with hoods). If parts are worn or defective, make certain that the unit is repaired or replaced. Be alert that not all respirators have replaceable parts. If in doubt, contact the EH&S Center. Respirators, including Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, maintained for emergency use, must be inspected monthly. A record documenting the inspection date, name of inspector and findings must be kept.

  • Cleaning - Cleaning and sanitizing is essential to ensure proper protection, prolonged life of the respirator and prevention of dermatitis. Use a mild soap or combination cleaning/sanitizing solution. Rinse in clean water and allow respirator to a air dry. Soap disinfectant packets are available at Central Stores.

  • Storage - Store respirator to protect against dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures and moisture. Use a separate bag to store filters and cartridges.

  • Maintenance - All respirators are to be maintained according to manufacturer's recommendations. Respirator parts for different brands, e.g. Survival or 3M, are not interchangeable. Self Contained Breathing Apparatus units require annual performance flow testing for the face piece and periodic overhauling by an authorized service representative.

Fit-Tests and Checks

Fit-testing and fit-checks are important to ensure that there is a good seal between the face and respirator face piece. For respirators which require a gas tight seal, beard growth is not permitted. These procedures also verify that respirator parts are functioning properly. A fit-test is conducted when a respirator is first issued. Positive and negative fit-checks are conducted by the employee when a respirator is first issued, and then each time the respirator is used.

N-95 Respirators

Employees using N-95 respirators for protection against hazardous aerosols will need to attend annual training and fit-testing. A confidential medical questionnaire is also required for mandatory N-95 use. Current N-95 users should follow instructions on questionnaire regarding re-submitting this form. Employees wearing N-95 respirators for comfort reasons only and not for protection against hazardous aerosols are not required to attend a training session nor complete a confidential medical questionnaire. However, users are required to submit a Filtering Face Piece Approval form