Celebrating 100 Years of Respiratory Protection

Source: Ashashyou - Wikimedia

NIOSH is celebrating the first annual Respiratory Protection Week.

Since 2012, NIOSH has recognized September 5 as N95 Day, a day to bring awareness to the importance of respiratory protection, specifically N95s.

This year’s observance will recognize the history of respiratory protection, as well as the research and standards, work that is happening to protect workers both today and in the future.

One century ago, the U.S. Department of Mines initiated the first respirator certification program in the U.S. Today, NPPTL carries out research, testing and related activities aimed at protecting workers through PPE.

NIOSH is also utilizing this event as an opportunity to expand N95 Day into a more inclusive observance to occur annually the first week of September.

Over 3 million US employees in approximately 1.3 million workplaces are required to wear respiratory protection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (29 CFR 1910.134) requires an annual fit test to confirm the fit of any respirator that forms a tight seal on the wearer’s face before it is used in the workplace.

Once a fit test has been done to determine the best respirator model and size for a particular user, a user seal check should be done every time the respirator is to be worn to ensure an adequate seal is achieved.

One of the most common types of respiratory protection is the filtering facepiece respirator (FFR), which is designed to be discarded when it becomes unsuitable for further use due to considerations of hygiene, excessive resistance, or physical damage.

However, due to the considerations of cost, convenience, and supply, respiratory protection program managers have great interest in the practices of reuse and extended use of NIOSH-approved FFRs that are not damaged or soiled.

The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) was created to be the division of NIOSH charged with the mission of preventing disease, injury, and death for the millions of working men and women relying on this equipment.

To accomplish this mission, NPPTL conducts scientific research, develops guidance and authoritative recommendations, disseminates information, and responds to requests for workplace health hazard evaluations.

NPPTL was established in 2001, at the request of Congress. The creation of the Laboratory was in response to a recognized need for improved PPE and focused research into personal protective technologies (PPT).