Respiratory Protection

Some employees of the University are exposed to hazardous levels of air contaminants during routine operations. Engineering controls, such as ventilation and substitution of less toxic materials, are the first line of defense; however, engineering controls are not always feasible for some operations, or do not always completely control the identified hazards. In these situations, respirators and other protective equipment must be used. A hazard assessment by a University Industrial Hygienists must be conducted to determine the correct protective equipment.

General Policy

It is the general policy that all MU faculty and staff required to use respiratory protection must complete the following process; MU will cover all costs. When MU faculty and staff request, but are not required to use respiratory protection, they must complete the process and are responsible for all associated costs.

  • Medical Assessment (Health History as a minimum)
  • Respirator Training (Hazardous Materials, Limitations, Use, Maintenance)
  • Respirator Purchase (Internal Order Form)
  • Fit-Test (Quantitative Fit-Test)

The general requirements for specific worker groups are listed below:

  • Asbestos Workers:
    • Health History, Physical Exam, Pulmonary Function Test, Chest X-Ray and Pathology (Annual)
    • Respirator training and Quantitative Fit-Test (Annual)
  • Faculty and Staff Haz. Mat. Workers:
    • Health History, Pulmonary Function Test (Initial only)
    • Respiratory Training, Quantitative Fit-Test (Annual)
  • Student Workers:
    • Review of Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for Materials Being Used
    • Written Physician or Certified Pulmonary Function Specialist Approval (each request)
    • Respiratory Training, Quantitative Fit-Test (Annual)

Frequently-Asked Questions

When must I use a respirator?
Respirators are required whenever it is determined that an employee is exposed to hazardous levels of airborne substances. This determination must be made by a University Industrial Hygienist. Some activities requiring the use of respirators include asbestos and lead abatement, chemical handling, pesticide use, painting and sanding. Contact the Industrial Hygiene Section at 882-7018 for more information.

What type of respirator do I need?
In order to select the proper respirator for a particular job, many details must be considered. The level of hazard can be estimated by the nature of the contaminant physical state, concentration, and toxicity. Such information can frequently be extracted from the Safety Data Sheet. While this information is helpful, it will also be necessary to determine other job specific factors such as ventilation rate (whether natural or mechanical), work procedures, or environmental conditions. The selection of proper respiratory protection must be made by a University Industrial Hygienist after a proper hazard assessment.

Where do I go to get a respirator?
All persons who are required to use respiratory protection must have their supervisor submit a request to EHS for such equipment. Before issuing a respirator for required use, the employee must undergo a physical examination and pulmonary function test to determine their ability to wear such equipment. Upon receiving a written opinion from a medical professional, the person may schedule a quantitative respirator fit test to determine the proper size of respirator to be issued. Training in the use and care of the respirator will be provided at the time of the fit test. Upon completion of the medical examination, pulmonary function test, quantitative fit test, and training, the employee will be issued a respirator for use.

How much will the respirator cost me?
Where respiratory protection is required, the University will provide the medical assessment (including any necessary tests), quantitative fit test, and equipment costs. When respirator usage is not required (voluntary), the employee must pay all costs.

How do I schedule a respirator fit test?
Call (573) 882-7018 to schedule a quantitative fit test. Most fit tests are scheduled between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and usually require 1 hour to complete. Be sure to bring a copy of the written medical opinion. Persons receiving a fit test should refrain from smoking for at least 30 minutes prior to the test. Facial hair must not interfere with the seal between the face piece and face or valve function.

What is covered in respirator protection training?
Training in the use and care of the respirator will be required at the time of the fit-test. All employees are required to complete the training prior to wearing respirators. The level of protection and degree of training are dependent on the air contaminant hazards present.