Policies & Procedures



Environment, Health, & Safety


Respiratory Protection Policy

SOP Number:  15.004
Effective Date:  November 1, 1999
Review Date:  June 29, 2012
Replaces:  15.003
Reviewed by:  Cathleen Eldridge, Associate Director, EH&S


The State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, in an effort to protect its employees from occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors will attempt to limit these exposures by using engineering controls where feasible. In the event that engineering controls will not be adequate, this respiratory protection plan policy and procedures will be followed.

Engineering Controls

Work that causes unhealthy breathing atmospheres will be performed in areas that minimize the potential of exposure to the workers performing the work, as well as the people in the surrounding areas. General ventilation systems can be used to dilute low levels of indoor contaminants.  Local ventilation systems such as welding hoods, chemical fume hoods, and laboratory and studio hoods, capture air contaminants near their source, thereby preventing their release into background areas.  Isolation of work areas, enclosure of the emission source, or elimination of contaminants are engineering controls.  Asbestos abatement activities require engineering controls to prevent the release of air contaminants.

Respirator Use

Respirators will be used when required to protect the employee from exposure to a breathing atmosphere that could cause adverse health effects and specifically:

  1. When warning Labels or Safety Data Sheets recommend or require use of a respirator.
  2. When various standard working procedures require respirator protection.

Also, Code Rule 56 of the New York State Department of Labor Laws requires respiratory protection if the action level of .01 fibers/cc of asbestos is reached.  Respiratory protection will be worn any time the PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit) for air contaminants is exceeded in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1000, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances.

Managers and supervisors are responsible for identifying and assessing when their employees may need to wear respirators.  They should seek guidance from the EH&S Department when identifying and managing their employees who may wear respirators in accordance with this policy.

Respirator Selection

Respirators will be selected on the basis of the hazard to which the worker is exposed. The College will provide all respirators used on campus.

Some assignments which require the use of a respirator and the type provided:

  1. Asbestos Abatement - PAPR with HEPA Filter.
  2. Chemical Spill Response - PAPR with Organic Vapor and Acid Gas Filters.
  3. Tuberculosis Patient Contact - P-100 Disposable Respirators. 
  4. Pesticide Application - 3M Half-Face Masks with Organic Vapor and Acid Gas Filters.

Respirator Issue

No employee will be issued a respirator without first obtaining medical clearance to ensure the employee has no medical condition that would prevent them from performing the assigned work while wearing respiratory protective equipment.  All respiratory protective equipment will be approved by the Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) Department.  SUNY Plattsburgh has limited and specific tasks where employees may need to wear respiratory protective equipment.  The EH&S staff will advise when these scenarios may arise.


Employees will be given training on the proper use of the individual respirator before they are issued. This training will consist of the proper fitting, pre-use tests, and limitations of the respirator.  All necessary care and cleaning practices will be covered during training.

Fit Tests

All employees who are assigned to wear a respirator or are issued a respirator will be fit tested for that respirator before its use.  Negative pressure respirators such as tight fitting face piece respirators (cartridge type) and particulate respirators will be fit tested annually using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.  The use and maintenance of Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) will be reviewed annually.  Qualitative or quantitative fit tests will be performed to help ensure employees use respirators properly by obtaining a good facial fit to prevent their leakage and failure.


Reusable respirators will be cleaned and disinfected after every use.  Cleaning will be done using a mild detergent and water.  Disinfection can be accomplished using a commercial disinfecting solution.  The wearer will inspect the condition of all components before using any respiratory protective equipment.  The employee's supervisor should be notified of problems and any worn or damaged parts must be replaced before use.  All respirators will be stored in a clean, dry and sanitary location.

Record keeping

Managers and supervisors will maintain records of which employees are assigned to wear respirators during specific tasks.  The records of respirator use, fit tests and employee training will be kept on file at EH&S.  The scheduling of medical clearance exams and maintenance of medical records will be managed by the Student Health Center for their own staff.  The scheduling of medical surveillance physicals and maintenance of medical records will be managed by the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Department for their staff.  (EH&S will inform M&O of when their physicals are due).

OSHA Respirator Videos

In January 2012, OSHA released videos for workers on the proper use of respirators.  The brief videos provide information to general industry and construction workers, and cover topics such as respirator types, fit testing, training requirements, and respirator maintenance and care.  Below you will find links for these videos.


Contact Information

Cathleen Eldridge, Director
Phone: 564-5009
Fax: 564-5082
Email: eldridcm@plattsburgh.edu

Location and Hours:
136A Service Building
Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm