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OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29CFR 1910.134)

Respiratory Protection Adviser


Respirator Maintenance

A respirator care and maintenance system must be established as part of the respiratory protection program because regular care and maintenance are important to ensure that respirators continue to function properly and provide necessary protection to the user from the threat of illness or death.

Respirator maintenance must include at least the following procedures:
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Regular Inspections
  • Care and Repair Methods
  • Proper Storage

Cleaning and Disinfection Procedures:

Respiratory equipment must be regularly cleaned and disinfected according to a specified procedure (see Appendix B-2 of the respiratory standard) or according to manufacturer specifications.

The cleaning and disinfecting or sanitizing frequency depends on work site conditions and
whether the employees share the equipment or are issued respirators for their exclusive use. 

Respirators issued for exclusive use must be cleaned and disinfected after eight hours of use, or as necessary to ensure protection for the wearer (working in a dusty environments for example may require that the respirator face piece to be cleaned more frequently). 

Respirators used by more than one person and emergency respirators must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

The employing department must ensure that adequate facilities, appropriate training and necessary equipment and supplies to efficiently clean and disinfect respirators are available .

Regular Inspections:

Respirators must be inspected routinely by employee before and after each use.   Specialized respirators such as airline, SCBA or PAPR require additional inspection, maintenance and cleaning procedures see above.  The frequency of and procedures for inspections depend on whether the respirator is intended for non-emergency, emergency, or escape-only use.

Respirators for emergency use must be inspected after each use by the employees to whom they are assigned, and once a month if not used frequently.   Inspections of emergency respirators should be done according to manufacturers' instructions.

All respirator inspections must include:
  • A visual inspection to identify any parts that may be missing, distorted, blocked, loose, deteriorated, or otherwise interfere with proper performance.
  • A check of elastomeric (rubber) parts for signs of deterioration.
  • Monthly ensure (SCBA) air cylinders are available for immediate use and are maintained in a fully charged state (i.e., pressure is not below 90% of manufacturer’s recommended level). Regulators and low pressure warning devices must be activated the to ensure they function properly.
  • Document the date of inspection, name or signature of inspector, inspection findings, any remedial action required, and serial number or other identification of the respirator.
  • Retain this information with the respirator, storage compartment, or inspection report until next certification. Tags may be used to document the inspections.

Care and Repair Methods

Departments must arrange for replacement or repairs by experienced persons, and with NIOSH-approved parts designed for the particular respirator being repaired and per Manufacturer recommendations.  Attempt to replace components, make adjustments or repairs beyond the manufacturer's recommendations are not allowed.  Self-contained breathing apparatus or air line respirators' valves, regulators, and alarms must be adjusted, tested, and/or repaired by a professional repair service or the manufacturer only.

If a respirator does not pass inspection, it must be removed from service immediately to be either adjusted, repaired or discarded.  Tagging out of service respirators is a good means for ensuring that defective respirators are not inadvertently used.

Proper Storage

After inspection, cleaning, or necessary repair, respirators must be stored in a manner that:
  • Protects them from contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, damaging chemicals, or other destructive conditions.
  • Prevents the face-piece or valves from becoming deformed.
  • Follows all storage precautions issued by the respirator manufacturer.
In addition, if a respirator is intended for emergency use, it must be:
  • Kept accessible to the work area, but not in an area that may become involved in an emergency and become contaminated or inaccessible when needed.
  • Stored in a clearly labeled container that is identifiable as containing emergency equipment.

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