OSHA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency's Respiratory Protection Standard.

The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard, and construction industries.

Appendix A of the standard contains mandatory respirator fit-testing methods that employers must use to ensure their employees' respirators fit properly and protect the wearer.

The respiratory protection standard also allows individuals to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval.

The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence.

Comments Wanted by Dec. 6

The agency invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace.

More specific issues for public comment are listed in the Federal Register notice.

Individuals may submit comments electronically or by mail or fax (see the Federal Register notice for details).

The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 6, 2016.

This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees but would not require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards.

The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.