Respirator required label

Editor’s note: The following was written for the Iowa State University Extension Integrated Crop Management blog April 15.

Under the Worker Protection Standard as revised in 2015, there are specific requirements for handlers when pesticide labels require the use of a respirator.

Handlers are employees, owners and family members who apply, load, unload, rinse pesticide application equipment or do other tasks involving the direct handling of pesticides.

Before you and your employees can use a respirator, you must receive:

  • A medical evaluation by a physician or other licensed health care professional to determine if you are physically fit to wear a respirator.
  • Fit-testing with a taste/smell/irritating indicator or with quantitative measurements to determine if the respirator forms a complete seal with your face.
  • Training about the use, care and maintenance of the respirator.

Follow these steps to ensure you are in compliance with the WPS:

Review the pesticide label to determine what type(s) and under what conditions a respirator will be used.

Determine who will be mixing, handling, loading and/or applying pesticides requiring a respirator.

Have each person requiring respirator protection complete an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire. Ensure the questionnaire is reviewed by a local health care provider.

Arrange for the employee to complete respirator fit testing using the same type of respirator required on the label of the pesticide(s) they will be using. Health care providers in your area may provide this service or know of a local resource.

Conduct training on use, care and maintenance of respirators.

Additional things to consider:

Medical clearance is only required once, unless medical problems arise or a fit test indicates a need for re-evaluation. An annual fit test is required for all tight-fitting respirators, when required by the pesticide label.

Respirator training is required annually or when workplace conditions change or a new type of respirator is used.

Records and documentation of medical clearance, fit-testing and training must be maintained for at least two years.