In 2001, the Survey of Respirator Use and Practices gathered information on respirator use from 40,002 randomly selected U.S. establishments. The survey collected data on the types of respiratory protection used by workers at an establishment, assessment of medical fitness to wear respirators, types of respirator fit tests performed, and presence of substances that prompted the decision to use respiratory protection. The findings of the survey raised questions regarding respirator usage practices and how these practices compare with the Occupational Safety and Health Adnrinistration (OSHA) regulations and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations. This report focuses on information from the respirator use and practices survey collected from establishments in the rubber and miscellaneous plastics products manufacturing industry, hereafter called rubber and plastics (Standard Industrial Classification 30; approximately 897,000 workers in 2001. This industry includes establishments that manufacture products from plastics resins and from natural, synthetic, or reclaimed rubber. Examples of products manufactured in this industry include tires and inner tubes, rubber and plastic footwear, gaskets, hose and belting, and plastic film, sheets, bottles, pipe and plumbing fixtures. During these processes, various dusts, fumes and chemicals might be released, causing adverse health effects in workers. In circumstances where ventilation or substitution with a less toxic chemical are not an option respiratory protection may be the only protection available to workers.
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