OSHA mandates that when respirator use is required in the workplace, respirators must be
approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
As a safety administrator, you must select respirators according to the assigned protection
factor (APF), which is the workplace level of respiratory protection that a respirator or
class of respirators is expected to provide to employees when the employer implements a
continuing, effective respiratory protection program. A Respirator Selection Form is included
with the purchase of our written respiratory protection program.
Another consideration is maximum use concentration (MUC), which is the maximum concentration
a worker can be expected to be protected from using the chosen respirator. Multiplying the
APF by the personal exposure limit (PEL) gives you the MUC for a respirator; it should be
less than both the PEL and the IDLH levels for that hazard.
PEL X APF = MUC
And finally, the respirators you select have to be appropriate for the type of hazard.
Different types of respirators, filters and cartridges are needed depending on whether
the airborne contaminants in your workplace are particles, gases, vapors or other hazards.
Respirators also need to be compatible with any other personal protective equipment (PPE)
that workers need to wear for protection against other types of hazards.
Types of Respirators
There are two main kinds of respirators:
Air-purifying respirators, which use filters, cartridges or canisters to remove
contaminants from the air you breathe.
Atmosphere-supplying respirators, which provide you with clean air from an