• Part Number:
  • Part Number Title:
    Occupational Safety and Health Standards
  • Subpart:
    1910 Subpart U
  • Subpart Title:
  • Standard Number:
  • Title:
    Mini Respiratory Protection Program.
  • GPO Source:

Scope and application. This section applies only to respirator use in accordance with §1910.502(f)(4).


Definitions. The following definitions apply to this section:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) means the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). For clarity and ease of reference, this section refers to "COVID-19" when describing exposures or potential exposures to SARS-CoV-2.

Elastomeric respirator means a tight-fitting respirator with a facepiece that is made of synthetic or rubber material that permits it to be disinfected, cleaned, and reused according to manufacturer’s instructions. It is equipped with a replaceable cartridge(s), canister(s), or filter(s).

Filtering facepiece respirator means a negative-pressure particulate respirator with a non-replaceable filter as an integral part of the facepiece or with the entire facepiece composed of the non-replaceable filtering medium.

Hand hygiene means the cleaning and/or disinfecting of one’s hands by using standard handwashing methods with soap and running water or an alcohol-based hand rub that is at least 60% alcohol.

Respirator means a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under 42 CFR part 84 or is authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration. Respirators protect against airborne hazards by removing specific air contaminants from the ambient (surrounding) air or by supplying breathable air from a safe source. Common types of respirators include filtering facepiece respirators, elastomeric respirators, and PAPRs. Face coverings, facemasks, and face shields are not respirators.

Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) means an air-purifying respirator that uses a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements to the inlet covering.

Tight-fitting respirator means a respirator in which the air pressure inside the facepiece is negative during inhalation with respect to the ambient air pressure outside the respirator (e.g., filtering facepiece).

User seal check means an action conducted by the respirator user to determine if the respirator is properly seated to the face.


Respirators provided by employees. Where employees provide and use their own respirators, the employer must provide each employee with the following notice: Respirators can be an effective method of protection against COVID-19 hazards when properly selected and worn. Respirator use is encouraged to provide an additional level of comfort and protection for workers even in circumstances that do not require a respirator to be used. However, if a respirator is used improperly or not kept clean, the respirator itself can become a hazard to the worker. If your employer allows you to provide and use your own respirator, you need to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard. You should do the following:


Read and follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care, and warnings regarding the respirator's limitations.


Keep track of your respirator so that you do not mistakenly use someone else’s respirator.


Do not wear your respirator where other workplace hazards (e.g., chemical exposures) require use of a respirator. In such cases, your employer must provide you with a respirator that is used in accordance with OSHA’s respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). For more information about using a respirator, see OSHA's respiratory protection safety and health topics page (https://www.osha.gov/respiratory-protection).


Respirators provided by employers. Where employers provide respirators to their employees, the employer must comply with the following requirements:


Training. The employer must ensure that each employee wearing a respirator receives training prior to first use and if they change the type of respirator, in a language and at a literacy level the employee understands, and comprehends at least the following:


How to inspect, put on and remove, and use a respirator;


The limitations and capabilities of the respirator, particularly when the respirator has not been fit tested;


Procedures and schedules for storing, maintaining, and inspecting respirators;


How to perform a user seal check as described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section; and


How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators and what to do if the employee experiences signs and symptoms.


User seal check.


The employer must ensure that each employee who uses a tight-fitting respirator performs a user seal check to ensure that the respirator is properly seated to the face each time the respirator is put on. Acceptable methods of user seal checks include:


Positive pressure user seal check (i.e., blow air out). Once you have conducted proper hand hygiene and properly donned the respirator, place your hands over the facepiece, covering as much surface area as possible. Exhale gently into the facepiece. The face fit is considered satisfactory if a slight positive pressure is being built up inside the facepiece without any evidence of outward leakage of air at the seal. Examples of evidence that it is leaking could be the feeling of air movement on your face along the seal of the facepiece, fogging of your glasses, or a lack of pressure being built up inside the facepiece. If the particulate respirator has an exhalation valve, then performing a positive pressure check may not be possible unless the user can cover the exhalation valve. In such cases, a negative pressure check must be performed.


Negative pressure user seal check (i.e., suck air in). Once you have conducted proper hand hygiene and properly donned the respirator, cover the filter surface with your hands as much as possible and then inhale. The facepiece should collapse on your face and you should not feel air passing between your face and the facepiece.


The employer must ensure that each employee corrects any problems discovered during the user seal check. In the case of either type of user seal check (positive or negative), if air leaks around the nose, use both hands to readjust how the respirator sits on your face or adjust the nosepiece, if applicable. Readjust the straps along the sides of your head until a proper seal is achieved.

Note to paragraph (d)(2): When employees are required to wear a respirator and a problem with the seal check arises due to interference with the seal by an employee’s facial hair, employers may provide a different type of respirator to accommodate employees who cannot trim or cut facial hair due to religious belief.


Reuse of respirators.


The employer must ensure that a filtering facepiece respirator used by a particular employee is only reused by that employee, and only when:


The respirator is not visibly soiled or damaged;


The respirator has been stored in a breathable storage container (e.g., paper bag) for at least five calendar days between use and has been kept away from water or moisture;


The employee does a visual check in adequate lighting for damage to the respirator’s fabric or seal;


The employee successfully completes a user seal check as described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section;


The employee uses proper hand hygiene before putting the respirator on and conducting the user seal check; and


The respirator has not been worn more than five days total.

Note to paragraph (d)(3)(i): The reuse of single-use respirators (e.g., filtering facepiece respirators) is discouraged.


The employer must ensure that an elastomeric respirator or PAPR is only reused when:


The respirator is not damaged;


The respirator is cleaned and disinfected as often as necessary to be maintained in a sanitary condition in accordance with § 1910.134, Appendix B-2; and


A change schedule is implemented for cartridges, canisters, or filters.


Discontinuing use of respirators. Employers must require employees to discontinue use of a respirator when either the employee or a supervisor reports medical signs or symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, any other symptoms related to lung problems, cardiovascular symptoms) that are related to ability to use a respirator. Any employee who previously had a medical evaluation and was determined to not be medically fit to wear a respirator must not be provided with a respirator under this standard unless they are re-evaluated and medically cleared to use a respirator.


Effective date. This section is effective as of June 21, 2021.

[86 FR 32626-32628, June 21, 2021; 86 FR 61554, November 5, 2021]