Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Sep; :1-273
In 2001, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted a voluntary survey of U.S. employers regarding the use of respiratory protective devices. This survey provides a greater level of detail than any previous survey of job-related respirator use. The survey findings are intended to provide information to develop educational interventions for specific populations and to increase the frequency and effectiveness of respirator use in the workplace. The Survey of Respirator Use and Practices provides estimates of the number and percent of private sector establishments that used respirators, by voluntary and required use. The survey also provides more detailed estimates, by type of respirator, of the number and percent of establishments and employees using respirators for required purposes only during the 12-month period prior to completing the survey. The 12-month survey period began anytime from August 2000 to January 2001. The survey also collected data on the characteristics of the respiratory protection program at the establishments. Public sector establishments and the self-employed were excluded from the survey. The survey was sent to a sample of 40,002 establishments designed to represent all private sector establishments. There was a 75.5-percent response rate. The survey found that an estimated 619,400 workplaces used respirators for voluntary or required purposes. Of these establishments, 281,800 reported use only for required purposes in the 12 months prior to the survey. Respirators had been used by employees in about 10 percent of private industry workplaces. In nearly half of the estimated 619,400 establishments in which respirators were used, they were used by employees on a voluntary basis only, and, in about 12 percent, they were used when required be cause of emergencies. (See text table 1.) Fifty-three percent of the establishments in which respirators had been used had 10 or fewer employees. Fifty-eight percent of those small establishments had only voluntary use of respirators, although 8.5 percent of the small establishments using respirators had at least some required emergency use of respirators. By comparison, 42 percent of the largest establishments (with 1,000 or more employees) using respirators had at least some required emergency use of respirators. In general, smaller establishments reported more voluntary respirator use than did larger establishments. Conversely, larger employers reported more required use. (See text table 2.) Text tables 3 through 6 summarize respirator use and practices during the 12 months prior to completion of the survey. A total of 3.3 million employees, or about 3 percent of all private sector employees, used respirators for required purposes during that period. These employees were distributed among 281,800 establishments, or 4 percent of all private workplaces. The highest rate of usage by industry was 13 percent for manufacturing. (See text table 3.) Thirty-two percent of all employees required to wear respirators worked at establishments with 1,000 or more employees. Fifty-five percent of these large establishments required at least some respirator use by their employees. In general, smaller establishments were less likely to have required respirator use during the prior 12 months. (See text table 4.) The survey indicates that air-purifying respirators are the most commonly used. Of all establishments with some required respirator use, 95 percent used air-purifying devices, whereas only 17 percent used air-supplied devices. Of establishments using respirators for required use, the transportation and public utilities industry had the highest usage rate (37 percent) of air-supplied respirators. (See text table 5.) The survey data regarding respirator program characteristics indicate that, of establishments that required respirator use, 59 percent provided training to workers to help them understand the use and limitations of respirators. Among these establishments, firms in the mining industry reported the highest rate (82 percent) of worker training. Forty-seven percent of establishments that required respirator use performed an assessment of the employees' medical fitness to wear respirators. (See text table 6.) Thirty-four percent of establishments that required respirator use had established a written respiratory protection program, adopted by management, to guide the manner of respirator use within the establishment. The wholesale trade industry reported the highest percentage (56 percent) of establishments with written respirator programs. (See text table 6.) Twenty-four percent of all the establishments that required respirator use included air sampling in their own establishment as a means to determine which respirator would be appropriate to protect employees from substance(s) in the workplace. The mining industry had the highest percentage (50 percent) of establishments using air sampling data from their own establishment. (See text table 6.) This document is also available in PDF format on CD-ROM.