OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

October 16, 1998

Ms. Myrtle I. Turner
O'Keefe Building, Room 029
151 6th Street
Atlanta, GA 30332-0837

Dear Ms. Turner:

This is in response to your letter of April 14, addressed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) [Office of Health Enforcement]. We apologize for the long delay of this response.

In your letter, you requested clarification on several respiratory protection issues. Your questions are being answered in the same order as they were presented in your letter:



  1. Question:    Is the designation 29 CFR 1910.139 reserved solely for tuberculosis?

    Answer:    Yes.

    [This document was edited on 12/31/2003 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy. On 12/31/2003 29 CFR 1910.139 was revoked in the Federal Register]

  4. Question:    There is no mention of the need to conduct quantitative fit testing for full-facepiece negative pressure tight-fitting air purifying respirators. Can a full-facepiece negative pressure tight-fitting air purifying respirator be used at its assigned protection factor of 50 without conducting quantitative fit testing?

    Answer:    No. A full-facepiece negative pressure air purifying respirator must be quantitatively fit tested to achieve its assigned protection factor of 50.

    OSHA's policies and procedures for compliance with the Respiratory Protection Standard have been published in the compliance instruction, Inspection Procedures for the Respiratory Protection Standard. This OSHA Instruction CPL 02-00-120 [formerly CPL 2-0.120] is available on the Internet at the OSHA Home page at: http://www.osha.gov. A copy is also enclosed for your furtherinformation.

  7. Question:    Several exemptions were noted for small business entities. One exemption for small business entities indicates that 29 CFR 1910.134 supersedes existing standards that require semi-annual fit testing and requires only annual fit testing. Does the revised 29 CFR 1910.134 modify the fit testing requirements for substance specific standards for all businesses (small and large)? If so, please state specific examples.

    Answer:    There are no exemptions for small business anywhere in the standard. The annual fit testing requirement in the new Respiratory Protection Standard changes the semi-annual fit testing requirements in the substance specific standards. The changes to the substance specific standards such as the asbestos and lead standards, were also published in the January 8, 1998, Federal Register, and fit testing requirements for substance specific standards now follow the new Respiratory Protection Standard. The change in the fit testing frequency applies to all businesses and is not a specific exemption for small businesses.

  10. Question:    Please define what is meant by a medical evaluation? More specifically, does a medical evaluation always include a physical examination?

    Answer:    Medical evaluations do not always require a physical examination. A medical evaluation is a determination that the employee is physically able to wear the respirator and perform the work. This can be done by giving the employee a medical examination or the OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire located in Appendix C of the new Respiratory Protection Standard. A medical examination is necessary when the employee gives a positive response to any question among questions 1 through 8 in Section 2, Part A of Appendix C.

  13. Question:    Is Appendix C, Respiratory Medical Evaluation Questionnaire, mandatory?

    Answer:    Appendix C, Respiratory Medical Evaluation Questionnaire is mandatory only when the employee is not provided with a medical examination. When a medical examination is chosen, the use of Appendix C, Respiratory Medical Evaluation Questionnaire is optional. The medical examination must, however, obtain the same information that is requested by the questionnaire in Sections 1 and 2, Part A of Appendix C of this section.

  16. Question:    Can Appendix C be used in place of a medical evaluation or vice versa? If so, is it the intent of 29 CFR 1910.134 to ensure that employers comply with Appendix C by completing the Respiratory Medical Evaluation Questionnaire or by ensuring that employees are provided a medical evaluation that covers the content of Appendix C?

    Answer:  See Answers to Questions 4 and 5.

  19. Question:    Should Appendix D, Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard, be mandatory in the case of voluntary use of respiratory protection rather than non-mandatory as stated in the standard?

    Answer:    Appendix D is mandatory for voluntary use of respirators. On April 23, 1998, the Correction Notice to the final rule was published in the Federal Register. Appendix D was redesignated as "mandatory" since the employer is required by paragraph (k)(6) of the standard to provide the basic advisory information on respirators presented in Appendix D to anyemployees who voluntarily use respirators.

Please note that on August 3, 1998, OSHA published Questions and Answers on the Respiratory Protection Standard. This 79 page document contains guidance and interpretations on the most frequently asked questions on respiratory protection. The section on medical evaluations and the attachments may be particularly helpful in developing a respiratory protection program. This can be found on the Internet at the OSHA Home Page at http://www.osha.gov.

Should you require any additional information on this matter, please, feel free to contact the [Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190].


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 12/30/2003]