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Unified Agenda - Table of Contents
Department of Labor (DOL) Proposed Rule Stage
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)


Priority: Other Significant.

Legal Authority: 29 USC 655(b); 29 USC 657

CFR Citation: 29 CFR 1910.134

Legal Deadline: None

Abstract: In January 1998, OSHA published the final Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134), except for reserved provisions on assigned protection factors (APFs) and maximum use concentrations (MUCs). APFs are numbers that describe the effectiveness of the various classes of respirators in reducing employee exposure to airborne contaminants (including particulates, gases, vapors, biological agents, etc.). Employers, employees, and safety and health professionals use APFs to determine the type of respirator to protect the health of employees in various hazardous environments. Maximum use concentrations establish the maximum airborne concentration of a contaminant in which a respirator with a given APF may be used.

Currently, OSHA relies on the APFs developed by NIOSH in the 1980s unless OSHA has assigned a different APF in a substance-specific health standard. However, many employers follow the more recent APFs published in the industry consensus standard, ANSI Z88.2-1992. For some classes of respirators, the NIOSH and ANSI APFs vary greatly.

When OSHA published the final Respiratory Protection standard in 1998, it reserved for later rulemaking those provisions of the standard dealing with APFs and MUCs. This rulemaking action will complete the 1998 standard, reduce compliance confusion among employers, and provide employees with consistent and appropriate respiratory protection.

Statement of Need: About 5 million employees wear respirators as part of their regular job duties. Due to inconsistencies between the APFs found in the current industry consensus standard (ANSI Z88.2-1992) and in the NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic, employers, employees, and safety and health professionals are often uncertain about what respirator to select to provide protection against hazardous air contaminants. Several industry and professional groups have asked OSHA to proceed with this rulemaking to resolve these inconsistencies and provide reliable protection of employees' health in cases where respirators must be worn.

Summary of Legal Basis: The legal basis for this proposed rule is the determination that assigned protection factors and maximum use concentrations are necessary to complete the final Respiratory Protection standard and provide the full protection of that standard.

Alternatives: OSHA has considered allowing the current situation to continue, in which OSHA generally enforces NIOSH APFs but many employers follow the more recent consensus standard APFs. However, allowing the continuation of this situation results in inconsistent enforcement, lack of guidance for employers, and the potential for inadequate employee protection.

Anticipated Cost and Benefits: Estimates of the costs and benefits have been completed and will be provided when the NPRM is published.

Risks: The preamble to the final Respiratory Protection rule (63 FR 1270, Jan. 8, 1998) discusses the significance of the risks potentially associated with the use of respiratory protection. No independent finding of significant risk will be made for the APF rulemaking, since it only addresses a single provision of the larger rule.


Action Date  

ANPRM Comment Period End
47 FR 20803

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No

Government Levels Affected: State, Local, Tribal, Federal

Agency Contact: Steven F. Witt, Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N-3718, FP Building, Washington, DC 20210
Phone: 202 693-1950
Fax: 202 693-1678

RIN: 1218-AA05

Unified Agenda - Table of Contents

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