Posted in: Safety Talks

Respiratory Protection Program

General Company Policy

The purpose of this program is to inform you that our company is complying with the OSHA respiratory protection standard 1910.134 by compiling a respiratory protection program, by providing employees with medical evaluation questionnaires, and by providing employees with training on respirator use specific to our company worksite.
This program applies to all work conditions that require respirator use under normal working conditions or during an emergency situation. All employees must have current fit tests, and approved medical consent before wearing a respirator be it mandatory or voluntarily.
Jamen Hull is the program coordinator, acting as the representative of the manager, who has overall responsibility for the program. The safety director will review and update the program as necessary. Copies of the program can be obtained from Jamen Hull.
This program will inform you of the types of respirators being supplied, the proper techniques of using a respirator, when the use of a respirator is necessary and voluntary use of respirators.

Medical Evaluations

OSHA standard 1910.134(c)(1)(ii) states that any employee who will be using a respirator must first be evaluated by a medical physician. The clinic that Norwalk Ready Mix will be using is the Des Moines University (DMU) Clinic. The physician evaluating employees is Jessica Sleeth. At the time of your respirator training you will receive a medical evaluation questionnaire, and an envelope addressed to DMU Clinic attn. Jessica Sleeth. Norwalk Ready Mix will allow you to fill these questionnaires out during normal working hours, or at a time and place convenient to you. These questionnaires are confidential and no member of management will review employee answers. After you have completed the questionnaires, place them in and seal the provided envelope, then turn them back in to your safety director who will then stamp and mail them to the DMU Clinic.

You are free to contact Jessica Sleeth anytime you feel the need. Her contact information is as follows:

DMU Clinic
3200 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50312
Attn: Jessica Sleeth

Office: 515-271-7801
Fax: 515-271-7094

Fit Testing

Every employee using a respirator must first be fit tested. The safety director, Jamen Hull, will conduct the fit test. The test is a qualitative test using a solution called Bitrex. There is a sensitivity test using a diluted solution of Bitrex without a respirator, and then a final test with the respirator on and a stronger solution of the Bitrex. Fit tests will be done for every employee annually or whenever there is a significant weight change, or facial change such as scarring etc. Facial hair will not allow the respirator to have a complete seal which is why facial hair should not be present when using a respirator. There is a fit test record for every employee that will be filled out at the completion of all fit tests. Those records will be kept on file in the safety director’s office.


The respirators that Norwalk Ready Mix will provide employees are the MSA® Advantage® 200LS Half Mask Respirators. Every employee will be assigned a respirator for their own use. The cartridges that go on the respirators are MSA® Advantage® Org. Vpr / Acid Gas P100 which have been tested to be effective against hazardous vapors as well as particle dust. Each filter has a 99.97% filter efficiency level and can safely protect against our hydrochloric acid and our concrete/cement dust which is classified as a nuisance dust. As per OSHA standard, the respirators and cartridges are all NIOSH approved. The cartridges will be stored in the plant manager’s office. When employees need to use their respirators, they must check out the cartridges from their plant manager. Do not take the liberty of taking cartridges without a plant manager’s knowledge. Also available at every plant are dust masks. Dust masks can be used in any task where respirators are not mandatory. Voluntary use of dust masks does not require fit tests or medical evaluations.

Respirator Care

Employees will all be assigned respirators for their own use. It is important that these respirators are taken care of as per the care instructions that come with every respirator. Cartridges are in the dispatches for employees to share, however it is every employee’s responsibility to thoroughly go through each cartridge prior to use. If there is something wrong with either of the cartridges, tell your plant manager or safety director and they will fix the problem by either finding out if there has been abuse by the employee who previously used it, or by just replacing worn out cartridges. If abuse is evident on a cartridge, the employee who caused the abuse may be asked to replace the cartridges, which is why it is very important to check cartridges out before you use them. Cartridges will be inspected at the end of each month by our on-site safety inspectors. If the cartridges do not pass inspection, appropriate action will be taken. After each use of a respirator, it is important that employees clean their respirator. After employees are done with their respirator, store it in the bag that it came with or in a zip lock bag that will protect the respirator from dust.

Mandatory Use of Respirators

The reason for using respirators in certain work related tasks is to insure safety for the employees of Norwalk Ready Mix. There will be job tasks in which respirator use will be mandatory. Employees are required to use a respirator when they are working near anything that is an obvious breathing hazard. Such tasks include chipping out trucks, working with acid when cleaning trucks, cleaning or working on the sock boxes of the plant, or working in an area that is heavily coated with cement, fly ash, slag etc. Some plants are set up differently than others and the accumulation of cementious material may be different from plant to plant. If there is any question regarding mandatory use of respirators for your particular plant, contact your safety director and he will then assess the situation. Every time an employee dons a respirator, for either mandatory or voluntary use, do a positive and negative pressure check to ensure that the seal is good. To do a positive pressure check the employee first must put on the respirator, then with the palm of their hand, cover the exhaust port located in the middle of the respirator and exhale. Continue to hold the exhaust port for 10 seconds making sure no air escapes. If air does escape, then take the respirator off and start over. Air escaping is an indicator of a poor seal. To do a negative pressure check, put on the respirator and with the palms of your hands cover the two cartridges and inhale. Once the employee inhales, the mask of the respirator should slightly cave in. if the air escapes, there is not a good seal and the employee must take the respirator off and do this procedure again. An employee using a respirator with a poor seal is like not using a respirator at all. These two procedures must be used every time a respirator is worn. In the event of an emergency, i.e. an acid spill or the like, after following the procedures in our hazardous communication program the person(s) containing the chemical will also need to use a respirator. If there is any question on a chemical’s respiratory hazard, locate that chemical’s MSDS and there you will gain information on the chemical hazards.

Voluntary Use of Respirators

Employees may feel free to use a respirator voluntarily if they so choose. With any voluntary use however, fit tests and medical evaluations are required. Examples of voluntary uses may include but are not limited to cleaning under the belt, shoveling aggregate from the load out, cleaning / shoveling around the building, cleaning out the pit, etc. If all the cartridges available are being used for mandatory use, then voluntary use of respirators is restricted to using a dust mask. All of the information in the respirator care applies to voluntary usage.


Training for the use of respirators will be provided for the employees of Norwalk Ready Mix by the safety director. Training is essential for every employee required to wear a respirator so if you missed the training and only have this written program, see Jamen Hull and he will give you the training needed. Training will consist of the proper procedures for regular use of half mask respirators assigned to the employees. A video will also be shown to give employees a visual on correct usage. Any questions that employees have whether it is during the training session, or anytime after should be presented to your safety director Jamen Hull or any of the plant’s on-site safety inspectors. We will do all that is possible to ensure that employees are knowledgeable in the ways of safely using their respirators, and/or identifying respiratory hazards.

Written Program Updates

If at any time a new policy, a new breathing hazard, new equipment, or anything pertinent to this written policy is introduced, updated respiratory protection programs will be produced and supplied to all employees. In the event of an updated program, new training will be provided to ensure that all employees are made fully aware of these changes.

Program Evaluation Procedures

It is important to have a program evaluation procedure in place because the purpose of this written program is to provide a guide to safely execute proper respirator use. The safety director and the managerial staff at Norwalk Ready Mix will periodically go over this written program to evaluate its effectiveness. If at anytime it is deemed ineffective or if the program is lacking and is no longer pertinent to a specific aspect, the safety director will revise the program. Any revisions will result in a new written program and new training.

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