When elimination, substitution and engineering controls are not feasible or adequate in protecting workers from silica dust exposure, respiratory protection can be an effective way to reduce worker exposure at a relatively low cost.OSHA’s new silica dust exposure standard, goes into effect June 23, 2016 (construction industry has until June 23, 2017 to comply, and General Industry and Maritime have until June 23, 2018). You can find the respirator requirements in 29CFR §1926.1153 Respirable crystalline silica standard, Table 1- Exposure Controls When Working with Materials that Contain Crystalline Silica, Including Respirator Requirements. The table lists construction activities, as well as engineering controls, which will require respirator use.In order to ensure employee safety they should be trained on how to use the respirators correctly, have respirator safety training, and be fit tested with a medical evaluation annually. Everyone’s face is shaped differently, and so fit testing is performed to determine if there is an adequate seal between the edge of a respirator and the face of the wearer. Typically facial hair will interrupt the seal, and therefore should be removed. The OSHA respiratory standard requires fit testing to be performed before the initial use of the respirator or paper dust mask and then at least annually thereafter.Below are the assigned protection factors for the different types of respirators according to the revised respiratory protection standard:Half-mask/paper dust mask: APF=10Half-mask (Elastomeric): APF=10Full face piece (Elastomeric): APF=50Full face piece Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), pressure demand mode: APF=10,000In order to work properly, the half-mask and full face piece respirators must be used with the right type of filter cartridges for the contaminant in the air.Filter cartridges are generally classified in three categories, particulate, gas/vapor, and combination cartridges. In cases where there could be silica dust exposure, employees should use a particulate filter cartridge with at least P99, R99, or N99 NIOSH classification. United Alliance Services provides respiratory protection awareness training, medical evaluation questionnaires (MEQs), and respiratory fit testing for companies in Cape Cod, MA, RI, CT, NH, NY and NJ.To schedule respiratory fit testing for your employees call (877) 399-1698.