Respiratory Protection

Policy Summary

It is the policy of the university to support the protection of employees from respiratory injury as a result of working with harmful dusts, fumes, gases, vapors, and other hazardous airborne substances, and to promote respiratory safety through the use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment as detailed in the university’s Respiratory Protection Program. 

Related Regulations

The purpose of this policy is to support the protection of employees from respiratory hazards, injuries, and illnesses, and to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations (29 C.F.R. § 1910.134).   

Who is Governed by this Policy 

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Faculty


OSHA sets Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for respiratory hazards. PELs are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air.  If levels above the PEL are detected the exposure must be reduced to the acceptable PEL.   

Health & Emergency Management Services has developed procedures and guidelines in the Respiratory Protection Program to assist in protecting employees from respiratory hazards in accordance with OSHA standards and best practices. 

Respirator requirements are dependent upon the type of operations and the toxicity and concentration of the substances in use.  All respirator use is assessed on a case-by-case basis.  Health & Emergency Management Services conducts hazard assessments to determine whether respirators are required for the health and safety of faculty and staff. 

If Health & Emergency Management Services determines that a respirator is mandatory, the employee must obtain a medical evaluation and a fit test at the university’s expense prior to using the respirator. If an employee chooses to voluntarily wear an approved respirator that is not required by Health & Emergency Management Services, the employee must also receive a medical evaluation and a fit test prior to respirator use.  Medical evaluations for voluntary use of a respirator must be obtained at the employee’s expense. 

Health & Emergency Management Services coordinates annual medical evaluations, fit testing, and respirator training.  Academic departments should contact the Office of Health and Safety with regard to all matters concerning respiratory protection to include equipment, information, and training for students. 

Departments are responsible for properly inspecting, maintaining, cleaning, disinfecting, and storing all respirators after each use in accordance with Health & Emergency Management Services training. 

Related Information


Contact Phone Number Email Address
Environmental Health and Safety 202-994-4347  [email protected]


Responsible University Official: Assistant Vice President for University Resilience
Responsible Office: Environmental Health and Safety

Noncompliance with this policy can be reported through this website.