New Respirator Fit Testing Protocols Approved by OSHA

September 30, 2019
OSHA has issued a final rule that provides employers with two new fit testing protocols for ensuring that employees’ respirators fit properly.
The new protocols are the modified ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and the modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators. Both protocols are variations of the original OSHA-approved ambient aerosol CNC protocol, but have fewer test exercises, shorter exercise duration, and a more streamlined sampling sequence.
These two quantitative methods add to the four existing in Appendix A of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, which contains mandatory respirator fit-testing protocols that employers must choose from to protect employees from hazardous airborne contaminants. The rule does not require employers in general industries, shipyard employment, and construction to update or replace their current fit testing methods, and does not impose additional costs.
The rule went into effect on September 26, 2019.
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OSHA’s New Weighting System for Workplace Inspections
OSHA announced that it has recently implemented the OSHA Weighting System (OWS) for fiscal year (FY) 2020. OWS will encourage the appropriate allocation of resources to support OSHA’s balanced approach of promoting safe and healthy workplaces, and continue to develop and support a management system that focuses enforcement activities on critical and strategic areas where the agency’s efforts can have the most impact.
Under the current enforcement weighting system, OSHA weights certain inspections based on the time taken to complete the inspection or, in some cases, the impact of the inspection on workplace safety and health. OWS recognizes that time is not the only factor to assess when considering the potential impact of an inspection. Other factors - such as types of hazards inspected and abated, and effective targeting - also influence the impact on workplace safety and health. The new system adds enforcement initiatives such as the Site-Specific Targeting to the weighting system.
The OWS replaces the current enforcement weighting system initiated in FY 2015. The new system is based on an evaluation of the existing criteria and a working group’s recommendations regarding improvements to the existing weighting system. OSHA has been running the new weighting system currently to confirm data integrity. 
The system will continue to weight inspections, but will do so based on other factors, including agency priorities and the impact of inspections, rather than simply on a time-weighted basis. The new OWS approach reinforces OSHA’s balanced approach to occupational safety and health (i.e., strong and fair enforcement, compliance assistance and recognition) and will incorporate the three major work elements performed by the field: enforcement activity, essential enforcement support functions (e.g., severe injury reporting and complaint resolution), and compliance assistance efforts.
OWS will become effective October 1, 2019.
OSHA’s Beryllium Standards Revised for Construction and Shipyards
OSHA has finalized its June 27, 2017, proposal to revise the construction and shipyards standards.
In the final rule, to be published on September 30, 2019, OSHA:
  • Does not implement the proposal to revoke all of the standards’ ancillary provisions; but
  • Extends the compliance dates for the ancillary provisions to September 2020 to account for OSHA’s new proposal to revise or remove specific provisions; and
  • Maintains enforcement of the permissible exposure limit.
In a forthcoming rulemaking, OSHA will publish a proposal to amend the beryllium standards for construction and shipyards by more appropriately tailoring the requirements of the standards to the exposures in these industries. The proposed changes would maintain safety and health protections for workers, facilitate compliance with the standards, and increase cost savings.
DeWalt Recall of Utility Bars
This recall involves DeWALT 40” Multi-Functional Utility Bars designed at one end for prying and at the other for gripping boards. DeWALT has received at least 56 reports of the utility bars breaking, including four reports of injured users.
The bars are yellow at one end and black at the other. The name “DeWALT” and the model number DWHT55293 are printed in black on the yellow end.
If you have one of these utility bars, call DeWALT at 866-937-9805 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday; e-mail at; or online at and click on “Service and Support,” then “Safety Recall Notice” for more information.
The utility bars were sold at Home Depot and other hardware stores nationwide, and online at and other online retailers from December 2015 through March 2019 for between $30 and $40.
Retailer Cited for Inadequate Vermin and Respirator Protections at New Hampshire Store
OSHA has cited Ocean State Job Lot for repeat and serious violations at a Stratham, New Hampshire, store. The retailer – based in North Kingstown, Rhode Island – faces a total of $154,199 in penalties for ineffective sanitation and respirator protections for store employees.
OSHA cited Ocean State Job Lot for failing to keep employee work areas free of vermin feces and urine, and institute a continuing and effective extermination program. OSHA cited the company for the same hazards in March 2019. OSHA also cited Ocean State for failing to provide respirator training, fit testing, and medical evaluations for employees required to use respirators while cleaning up vermin waste.
"Employers are required to maintain worksites in a sanitary condition and keep areas free from conditions which have the potential to harbor vermin," said OSHA Concord Area Director Rosemarie O. Cole.
OSHA’s Respirator Protection eTool provides information on medical requirements, maintenance and care of respirators, and fit testing.
Powertech America Cited by OSHA After Fatality
OSHA has cited Hyundai Transys Georgia Powertrain Inc. – operating as Powertech America Inc. – for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards after a fatality at the company’s West Point, Georgia, facility. The automobile transmission manufacturer faces $68,194 in penalties.
The employee suffered fatal injury when a transmission turnover machine activated while the employee performed maintenance.
OSHA cited Hyundai Transys Georgia Powertrain Inc. for failing to train employees to control the release of hazardous energy and use energy isolation devices. OSHA also cited the company for failing to provide lockout procedures to employees in their native language, provide fall protection and implement a hearing conservation program. OSHA conducted the inspection in conjunction with the Agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Safety Hazards in Auto Parts Industry.
“Failure to adequately control hazardous energy is a leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities in the auto parts industry,” said OSHA Atlanta-West Area Director Jeffery Stawowy. “Employers must provide workers with the tools and information needed to ensure safety for themselves and coworkers.”
New York Contractor Cited for Health and Safety Hazards During Asbestos Removal Work
OSHA has cited Rex Harper – doing business as REH Property Maintenance – for improper asbestos removal and disposal at Superior Steel Door & Trim Co. Inc. in Jamestown, New York. Harper faces a total of $168,772 in proposed penalties.
Superior Steel Door & Trim Co. Inc. had contracted with Harper for the removal of asbestos from piping. OSHA inspectors determined that Harper failed to protect employees from exposure to asbestos; perform asbestos work in a regulated area, with proper barriers, ventilation, and enclosures; use proper engineering controls and work practices; clean up and dispose of asbestos materials; launder and transport protective clothing; and implement respiratory protection and asbestos training programs for employees.
OSHA cited Superior Steel Door & Trim Co. Inc. for failing to determine the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos-containing materials; develop and implement a chemical hazard communication program; and for a fall hazard involving a forklift. Proposed penalties total $12,124. The citations for both companies can be viewed here.
"Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and can cause chronic lung disease, lung cancer, and other cancers," said OSHA’s Buffalo Area Director Michael Scime. "Employers are legally obligated to comply with OSHA standards on toxic and hazardous substances to ensure workers are protected from exposure."
Masonry Manufacturer Cited for Exposing Employees to Silica and Other Hazards
OSHA has cited Oldcastle APG South Inc. – based in Greensboro, North Carolina, and operating as Coastal, for exposing employees to amputation, struck-by and silica hazards at the company’s facility in Riviera Beach, Florida. Oldcastle APG South Inc. faces $132,037 in penalties.
OSHA cited the manufacturer/distributor of masonry and hardscape products for exposing employees to amputation, struck-by, and fall hazards, and to silica levels above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) without implementing engineering or work practice controls. OSHA also cited the company for failing to perform follow-up air monitoring, provide employees who wore air respirators with medical evaluations, to include employees exposed above the silica PEL in a medical surveillance program, and to provide audiograms. OSHA conducted the inspection as part of the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations and Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks.
“Employers must implement effective safety and health programs to identify the hazards that exist in their workplaces, and take corrective actions to prevent worker exposures to serious or life-threatening injuries and illnesses,” said OSHA Area Director Condell Eastmond, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
American Wire and Cable Cited for Exposing Employees to Multiple Safety and Health Hazards 
OSHA has cited American Wire and Cable Company – an appliance industry supplier – for more than two dozen serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at the manufacturer’s facility in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. The company faces $185,640 in penalties.
During safety and health inspections conducted in April 2019, OSHA inspectors found 25 serious violations related to access and egress; fall protection; walking-working surfaces; blocked exits; storage and use of flammable material; hazardous communication; guarding on machines and power transmission equipment; lockout/tagout procedures; overhead crane inspections; and electrical equipment hazards. The company also failed to provide and train employees on personal protective equipment, first aid, emergency action plans, and respirator use; and to implement a hearing conservation program.
“Disregarding required safety and health procedures leaves workers at risk for serious injuries and illness,” said OSHA Cleveland Area Director Howard Eberts. “Employers are obligated by law to comply with standards put in place to protect employees on the job.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
City of Santa Fe Cited for Safety Violations Following Worker
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has cited the City of Santa Fe for seven safety violations following an investigation by the Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) into an April 1, 2019, accident that resulted in the death of a city employee. NMED has also proposed civil penalties of $183,375 for the violations.
“Our Occupational Health and Safety Bureau’s number one priority is ensuring the health and safety of workers in New Mexico,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “When that does not happen and worker injuries or fatalities occur, the State of New Mexico will hold employers accountable for such failures.”
The accident occurred at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center when a maintenance worker replacing interior lighting fixtures as part of a planned upgrade contacted a 277-volt circuit as he was working from a scissor lift to remove existing equipment.
“Electrical safety violations result in far too many accidents and deaths in New Mexico and nationwide,” said Robert Genoway, OHSB Chief. “All workers deserve a safe workplace.”
NMED cited the City for violations including failure to properly train employees in electrical safe work practices, failure to institute safe procedures and failure to properly de-energize, lock out and verify de-energization of the circuits. The City is required to correct the violations or notify the OHSB if it intends to contest the citations within 15 business days.
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