Respirator Trusted-Source Information
Section 3: Ancillary Respirator Information
- Are medical evaluations a must?
- Is a medical evaluation required for voluntary use of a respirator (i.e., when respirator use is not required by your employer)?
- Can the medical evaluation be completed when fit testing is performed or does it have to be completed prior? Does it have to be done by a physician?
- How frequently does the medical evaluation have to be completed?
Yes, a medical evaluation is an element of the written respiratory protection program that is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (29 CFR 1910.134). The standard requires that if you are required to wear a respirator due to a potential hazard in your work environment, you must be fit tested, trained, and medically evaluated prior to having a respirator issued.
Is a medical evaluation required for voluntary use of a respirator (i.e., when respirator use is not required by your employer)?
It depends on the type of respirator to be worn. A written respirator program, including medical evaluation, is required for the voluntary use of any respirator except filtering facepiece respirators. An N95 respirator often used by healthcare personnel is an example of a filtering facepiece respirator.
Can the medical evaluation be completed when fit testing is performed or does it have to be completed prior? Does it have to be done by a physician?
The medical evaluation determines your ability to use a respirator. It is required to be completed before you are fit tested and before the decision is made that you are required to use a respirator in the work environment. It is mandatory that you be evaluated by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional (PLHCP) who provides a written recommendation regarding your ability to use respirators. The PLHCP needs to be an individual whose legally permitted scope of practice (i.e., license, registration, or certification) allows him or her to independently provide, or be delegated the responsibility to provide, some or all of the healthcare services required in the medical evaluation.
If your employer opts to perform medical evaluations utilizing a medical questionnaire, the completed questionnaire is sent to the healthcare professional for review. Depending on your answers to the questionnaire, you may be required to have a follow-up medical evaluation before being allowed to wear a respirator.
Medical evaluation is required once, prior to initial fit testing and use, if you are required to use a respirator in your workplace. However, the medical evaluation may need to be repeated if you, your supervisor, or your respiratory program administrator recognize signs or symptoms that may affect your ability to use the assigned respirator, or a PLHCP, determines that a condition exists which causes you to need another medical evaluation.