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Unified Agenda - Table of Contents
Department of Labor (DOL) Final 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 someclasses of respirators, the NIOSH and ANSI APFs vary greatly.

This rulemaking action will complete the 1998 standard, reduce compliance confusion among employers, and provide employees with consistent and appropriate respiratory protection. On June 6, 2003, OSHA published an NPRM on Assigned Protection Factors in the Federal Register at 68 FR 34036 containing a proposed APF table, and requesting public comment. The extended comment period ended October 2, 2003, and an informal public hearing was held January 28-30, 2004.

Statement of Need: About five 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: The estimated compliance costs for OSHA's proposed APF rule are $4.6 million. The APFs proposed in this rulemaking help to ensure that the benefits attributed to proper respiratory protection under 29 CFR 1910.134 are achieved, as well as provide an additional degree of protection.

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 has been made for the APF rulemaking, since it only addresses a single provision of the larger rule.


Action Date FR Cite

ANPRM Comment Period End
Final Rule
Final Rule Effective
NPRM Comment Period End
NPRM Comment Period Extended
Public Hearing on 01/28/2004
Final Rule: Revocation of Respiratory Protection M. TB
Public Hearing
Post-Hearing Comment and Brief Period Extended
Post-Hearing Comment Period End
Post-Hearing Briefs End
Final Action


47 FR 20803

59 FR 58884
63 FR 1152

68 FR 34036

68 FR 53311
68 FR 64036
68 FR 75767

69 FR 16510

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No

Government Levels Affected: Federal, Local, State, Tribal

Additional Information: At the time of the revision of the 1972 standard, OSHA decided that because its proposed standard for occupational exposure to tuberculosis (TB), published three months earlier, included a comprehensive respiratory protection provision, the agency would allow compliance with the previous respirator standard for TB protection until completion of the TB rulemaking. Thus, pending conclusion of the TB rulemaking, OSHA redesignated the old respiratory protection standard in a new section entitled ``Respiratory Protection for M. Tuberculosis.`` Because OSHA has withdrawn its proposed TB standard, the agency also revoked the designated respiratory protection standard, and is applying the general industry respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) to respiratory protection against TB.

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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