What is the significance of having a respirator approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)? To answer this, it is important to understand NIOSH as well as U.S. OSHA and the primary function of each.
What are the Functions of NIOSH and U.S. OSHA?
NIOSH is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illnesses and injuries. NIOSH is also responsible for approval of respiratory equipment. U.S. OSHA is the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration and their mission statement identifies their goal as publishing guidance and regulations to help “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”1
One of the referenced U.S. OSHA standards is 29 CFR 1910.134. This standard outlines OSHA requirements for employers who provide respirators to their workers and directs employers on the requirements for a respiratory protection program. As part of any respiratory protection program, OSHA requires that the respirator selected for use is approved by NIOSH.
NIOSH approval is issued only to a specific and complete respirator assembly after the respirator has been evaluated in the laboratory and found to comply with all requirements of Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 84, and after the manufacturer’s quality plan is determined to be satisfactory. A NIOSH approval applies only to the specific respirator that is made up of the components included on the NIOSH approval label.2
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), worker safety can be compromised by using parts or accessories that are not NIOSH-approved for the specific respirator. Although NIOSH-approved respirators are comprised of various component parts, they are approved as a complete unit. Substitution of components that are not part of the original approved system results in a respirator that has not been evaluated by NIOSH.3 Unevaluated respirator assemblies may not function at the expected level of protection, putting the worker at risk for exposure to airborne hazards.4
How Do You Know if a Respirator is NIOSH Approved?
It is the employer’s responsibility to perform a hazard assessment and determine the correct NIOSH-approved respirator for the task.5 There are many resources and informational tools to support respiratory programs and help you understand if a respirator in a specific configuration is approved by NIOSH. We can help you select appropriate NIOSH-approved respiratory products given the hazards your workers face on a specific worksite while conducting certain applications or tasks.
What Documentation Should You Look for to Verify NIOSH Approval?
Both an approval label and User Instructions are supplied with all NIOSH-approved respirators. These documents, a single copy of which may accompany either a large or small package of respirators, should not be discarded before all the respirators are used or discarded. In addition to the approval number, the NIOSH approval label contains contact information for the respirator manufacturer/supplier, cautions and limitations for use, and directions for proper use. It is very important to read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for the respirator that you are using.
How Do I Check that My 3M Respiratory Products are Approved by NIOSH?
We have a team of dedicated technical support staff ready to assist with questions related to your products. You can reach our health and safety specialists online or call at 1-800-243-4630.
How Can Our Application Engineers Help You with PPE and Other Solutions?
Application engineers are specialists that focus on specific product lines and offer technical support in addition to questions relating to product selection, configuration and application.
Do You Need Assistance with Buying PPE and Respiratory Products?
Our dedicated sales specialists are cross-trained on all personal safety division products in order to provide field support.
Where Can I Find Other Resources?
U.S. OSHA offers a wide variety of resources. Specifically, the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, speaks to respiratory protection as well as a small business guide to setting up a respiratory protection program.
We also offer a comprehensive site and guide designed for all types of businesses that need to establish and implement a respiration protection program under this federal standard. This guide is intended to assist program administrators and employers who need to develop a program.
For more information about NIOSH approval and choosing the right PPE, please do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced team of professionals today.
2 Ahlers, H. W. (2007, May 4). Respirators Users Notice. Retrieved from Department of Health & Human Services: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/pdfs/UsersNotice05042007-508.pdf
4 NIOSH. (2016, February). Use of Aftermarket Replacement Component Parts for NIOSH-Approved Respirators. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2016-107/default.html
5 OSHA. (2020). 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection. Retrieved from Occupational Safety and Health Administration: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.134
Scott Product NIOSH Approved Combinations
NIOSH Rubber Datasheet – https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1923447O/3m-scott-av-series-niosh-rubber-datasheet.pdf
NIOSH Kevlar Datasheet – https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1609433O/3m-scott-av-series.pdf
NIOSH Polyester Datasheet – https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1923446O/3m-scott-av-series-niosh-poly-datasheet.pdf