NORA Construction Sector Strategic Goals
927PP16 - Surveillance of Programs Using Respirators (SPUR)
Principal Investigator (PI)
Primary Goal Addressed
Secondary Goal Addressed
Attributed to Construction
The purpose of this project is to understand respirator and other PPE use and practices with the ultimate goal of using interventions to improve respiratory protection programs. This project will continue to analyze and disseminate information about respirator use and the associated respirator programs established by U.S. employers. Composite data from the focus groups in three sectors of the construction industry will be analyzed and published.
The study of thirty road and transportation building construction sites will determine the effectiveness of interventions on a relatively small scale. The information gathered from this study will be used to determine the feasibility for a future survey and interventions in the construction industry. Eventually, the study findings could be applied in non-construction industries.
NIOSH and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) developed, cognitively tested, and mailed a respirator survey to a representative sample of U.S. industry establishments. The survey will continue to be analyzed jointly by BLS and NIOSH and used to better understand the patterns of respirator use in the manufacturing, mining, construction, agriculture, services (including health care), trades, and transportation industries. The findings have identified industries where respirators are worn, types and proportions of respirators worn, and delineated the strengths and weaknesses of current respirator programs. BLS and NIOSH produced a joint publication of the survey results (which was published by BLS).
Through the NIOSH/BLS respirator survey, we identified industries with a high rate of respiratory protection use and until adequate engineering controls are available and widely implemented, it is likely that respirators will continue to be used – especially in the construction sector where we will concentrate intervention efforts. However, to help prevent the deaths and diseases described in the “Mission Relevance” section, we need to improve the effectiveness of respirator use and improve respirator programs in these industries. Additional manuscripts from this survey for peer reviewed and trade journals will be produced.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) experts will recommend additional types of respirator surveys that may be necessary. A public meeting was conducted by NAS to gain direction for respirator surveillance such as public sector respirator surveys.
NIOSH staff has gathered information about barriers to respirator use within the construction industry (highway construction, painting and coatings, and demolition) from the employers’ and employees’ perspective. Information about respirator use in specialty trade contractors, with about two thirds of the respirator use in the construction industry and a high number of indicators of an inadequate respiratory protection program, will also help address barriers. NIOSH staff analyzed the composite data from focus groups conducted during 2000-2004 and continues to disseminate results via trade journals.
Based on the joint BLS/NIOSH respirator survey and publication (disseminated 5000 hard copies, 11,000 CD-ROMs, and over 7000 visits to the NIOSH web site), OSHA and MSHA posted alerts on their web sites about potentially fatal airline respirator hazards. OSHA used project data to develop the assigned protection factor portion of the 29 CFR 1910.134 respirator standard. Under this project, there have been 14 presentations and 12 manuscripts published.
Hypothesis: The application of interventions can result in improvement of respiratory protection program elements in the road and transportation industry.
Goals: Evaluate respirator programs of 30 companies at constructions sites in the 4 Bureau of Census regions. Conduct air sampling at 7 of the sites. Conduct interventions at 24 of the 30 sites.
This project combines the work of industrial hygienists, epidemiologists, statisticians, organizational and behavioral experts, and respirator certifications personnel in a NIOSH interdivisional effort. We also will work with BLS and OSHA as well as industry trade organizations and unions.
This project is being conducted internally, with contract support and interagency agreements to leverage resources and gain necessary expertise in certain subject matter.
The time frame for this project extends through FY2010. However, the intervention phase will be complete by the end of FY2009.
NIOSH has established a “strategic goal” for developing a
system of surveillance of occupational exposures. Since
respiratory protection is one method commonly used by
employers to reduce occupational exposures, NIOSH further
wishes to collect, analyze, and disseminate information about
respirator use and the associated respirator programs among U.
S. employers. The information collected will include barriers
encountered by respiratory protection programs, as well as
methods of addressing those barriers. More specific objectives
include the following: • Evaluate (in conjunction with the
National Academy of Sciences) and update information
regarding respirator use gathered via the survey and focus
groups during 2000-2004 by NIOSH and the
Bureau of Labor Statistics o Identify any shortcomings in
survey methods and previous analyses of the survey data.
• Obtain new information from the
National Demolition Association regarding respiratory
protection programs that have been found to be effective. The
National Demolition Association has relatively well-developed
respiratory protection program guidelines with widespread
implementation by members who participated in the focus
group discussions. • Observe respiratory protection programs
within a select sample (approximately 30) of the road and
transportation building industry, and the respirator interface
with other PPE, to identify current barriers to effective
respiratory protection, using objective evaluation criteria.
• Gather air sampling
data from 7 of the same worksites to document the levels of
exposure to selected substances if no respirators are worn.
Examples of substances to be sampled include silica, paint
vapors, and welding fumes. • Develop methods (i.e.,
interventions) of addressing the barriers to effective respiratory
protection. • Implement those interventions at approximately
80% of the select sample worksites, with the remainder being
viewed as controls. • Evaluate the effectiveness of the
interventions, using the same objective criteria, at the same
select worksites through return visits. • For successful
interventions, introduce the intervention throughout the
industry through trade association and unions. • Conduct
industry-wide surveys before and after the industry-wide
interventions to assess their effectiveness.
Barriers identified during the 2000-2004 focus groups include: Administrative
barriers to respiratory protection: o Employers reported that it
is “hard to get workers to wear respirators.” (They may have
“macho attitudes.” Construction site spread out and respirators
are a distance away so not worn by the employees.) o
Maintenance of records for training and fit testing o
Maintenance and storage of respirators under the conditions of
the project sites o Air monitoring for airborne levels of toxic
contaminants is difficult on small jobs o Workers’ use of
tobacco products o Facial hair o Enforcement of rules related to
wearing of respirators – difficult to replace workers who are
fired. Respirator design barriers to respiratory protection: o
Interference with eye protection o Filter resistance makes
breathing more difficult o Reduced peripheral vision with
supplied-air hoods o Incompatibility with high temperatures
and humidity (valves stick) o Weight of supplied-air hoses o
Lack of interchangeability of supplied-air hoses o Lack of
indicators for changing cartridges Economic barriers to
respirator protection: o Administration and evaluation of
questionnaires for fitness to wear respirators, as well as
physical exams, are costly o “Fitness to wear” questionnaires
and exams entail time away from work o OSHA respirator
regulations are perceived as written for large factories with
medical personnel on site, which is not the case for small
construction and painting contractors.