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News Release USDL: 95-200
Friday, June 2, 1995
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming, (202) 219-8151

Osha Plans June 15 Science-Policy Panel To Discuss Respirator Selection Issues

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is convening a science-policy panel to consider assigned protection factors for respirators on June 15 during hearings on its respiratory protection proposal, the agency announced today.

Assigned protection factors (APFs) are numbers given to classes of respirators (such as half-mask or powered air purifying respirators) that indicate the anticipated maximum protection the respirator can provide. Thus, a respirator with an APF of 10 could be expected to protect a worker exposed to air concentrations of up to 10 times the permissible exposure level for a particular toxic chemical.

OSHA is updating its respiratory protection standard to reflect changes in methodology and technology that have occurred since the existing standard was adopted in 1971. The agency estimates the new proposal would prevent up to 550 cancer deaths and as many as 6,900 illnesses each year. Approximately 3.6 million workers at more than 650,000 workplaces would be covered under the proposal.

An OSHA official will chair the panel, which will include an additional OSHA representative and six parties who have already signed up to testify on APFs. The parties invited by OSHA to participate in the panel will choose their own representatives and need not limit their choices to individuals previously identified as witnesses. OSHA expects that panel members will be technical experts who are willing to exchange views "on the record" in a constructive manner.

The panel will discuss the relative merits of various classification systems such as those developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the voluntary American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and others. OSHA is seeking the fullest possible airing of this issue to ensure a complete record on APFs.

Through the panel discussion OSHA hopes to gain a variety of perspectives on the uncertainties surrounding the choice of APFs so that the agency can determine whether and how to set an APF for each respirator class in the final respiratory protection rule. During the panel session, panel members and hearing participants will focus on the agenda issues and will be asked to refrain from repeating testimony provided at other times during the hearing.

Specific issues the panel will address include: the validity of results obtained from available protection factor studies; the range of statistical uncertainty and person-to- person variability surrounding the results of these studies; correlations between study results; identification/specification of procedures and protocols that should be used in determining APFs; and science-policy issues on the role of protection factors in a required selection logic.

Hearings on the November 15, 1994 proposal start June 6, 1995, beginning at 9:00 a.m. each day in the auditorium of the Frances Perkins Building, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. They will continue through at least June 20, 1995.

The proposal would require employers to develop a written respiratory program, establish appropriate procedures for respirator selection, provide medical evaluation for employees wearing respirators, conduct proper respirator fit testing, set procedures for using and maintaining respirators, train employees and evaluate the effectiveness of the respiratory protection program.

In addition, the proposal would revise respirator provisions covering the selection and use of certified respirators contained in other OSHA standards.

OSHA's announcement on the convening of the scientific panel for the respiratory protection hearing testimony appeared in the May 25 Federal Register.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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