Yes, Respirator Training Really Is Required

Yesterday’s Advisor reviewed the inspection, maintenance, storage, and repair requirements of OSHA’s respiratory protection regulation. Today we move on to the regulation’s often ignored training requirements—and a handy resource for meeting those OSHA mandates.

In any workplace in which a respirator is required, the employer must establish a written respiratory protection program with specific procedures for all sites covered by it. The program must be updated as necessary to reflect changes in conditions and must be administered by a trained administrator.

A key element of that program is to ensure that training in the use of that respiratory protection equipment is provided. Employers must provide respirators, training, and medical evaluations at no cost to employees.

Despite this clear mandate, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in a recent year only 59 percent of establishments that required employees to use respirators actually provided respirator training. Make sure that your workplace is not inviting an OSHA citation through this omission.

All the safety training you need in one program: 25 subjects, one low price. It’s BLR’s Safety Training Presentations. Try it at no cost. Get the details.

Elements of Basic Respirator Training

BLR’s Safety Training Presentations says that employers must ensure that each employee can demonstrate knowledge of:

  • Why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator

  • The limitations and capabilities of the respirator

  • How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations, including situations in which the respirator malfunctions

  • How to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator

  • What the procedures are for maintenance and storage of the respirator

  • How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators

  • The general requirements for fitting, wearing, using, cleaning, and storing respirators

Training Frequency

Employers must provide respirator training before requiring the employee to use a respirator in the workplace. An employer that is able to demonstrate that a new employee has received training within the past 12 months that addresses the elements of basic respirator training does not need to retrain the person, provided the employee can demonstrate knowledge of those elements. Previous training not repeated initially by the employer must be provided no later than 12 months from the date of the previous training.

Retraining must be administered annually, and when any of the following conditions apply:

  • Changes in the workplace or the type of respirator render previous training obsolete

  • Inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use of the respirator indicate that the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill

  • Any other situation arises in which retraining appears necessary to ensure safe respirator use

Delivery Method and Format

Trainers may use a combination of classroom and hands-on at the worksite to introduce the basic requirements and concepts of respiratory protection, using any format that leads to comprehension and understanding.


Employers must certify in writing that each affected employee received and understands the required training for personal protective equipment, including respirators. Employers must verify that each affected employee has received and understands the required training through a written certification that contains the name of each employee trained, and the date(s) of training, and that identifies the subject of the certification.

Try Safety Training Presentations at no cost and no risk. Find out more.

Our editors say that Safety Training Presentations is a great tool for meeting these training requirements. The session on respiratory protection includes a 43-slide PowerPoint® presentation, a detailed trainer’s guide, slide show notes, two training exercises, a handout, and a quiz.

And that session is just 1 of 25 core safety meetings, each one responsive to either an OSHA training requirement or to common causes of workplace accidents. All are customizable, so you can add your specific hazards or safety policies.

Each lesson also includes completion certificates, sign-in sheets, evaluation forms, and training records. In short, it contains everything you need to motivate, reinforce, retain, and transfer new knowledge—and document that you did so.

The topics covered include:

–Bloodborne Pathogens
–Back Safety
–Emergency Action
–Fire Prevention
–Portable Power Tool Safety
–Forklift Operator Safety
–Confined Space Safety
–Fall Protection
–Respiratory Protection
and more!

Of course, training needs change as OSHA introduces new requirements or as new work practices and technologies bring new hazards. To cover this, you receive a new CD every 90 days you’re in the program, each containing five additional or updated topics.

Just as important for those on a budget (and who isn’t these days?), the cost of these presentations works out to under $20 each.

We’ve arranged for Advisor subscribers to get a no-cost, no-obligation look at Safety Training Presentations for 30 days. Feel free to try a few lessons with your own trainees. Please let us know, and we’ll be glad to set it up.


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