Volume No. 35
Respiratory Protection and Homeland Security
Tucker, Occupational Health Compliance Officer
Since the events of September 11, 2001, our public safety and response agencies
have recognized a need to become better equipped to handle catastrophic events.
For many of us, the way we conduct our daily business has changed significantly.
Anthrax, Bioterrorism, Domestic Preparedness, Homeland
Security, and Weapons of Mass Destruction are now common terms used
in planning response efforts.
This article will discuss different types of respiratory protection that are
available when involved in response efforts. There are many types of
respiratory protection available from respirator manufacturers. It is important
to understand that selecting the appropriate respirator is critical to ensure
Prior to selecting respiratory protection, response organizations must determine
their role in any response effort. As many of our response agencies have
learned, preplanning is a critical component of any response. The “Incident
Command System,” often used in emergency responses, is now undergoing
significant changes. While state statutes give the fire officer-in-charge the
authority to control and direct emergencies, the complexities and magnitude of
the events encountered together with the various types of organizations that
respond have necessitated a change to a concept called “Unified Command
System.” In general, the “Unified Command System” allows a large incident to be
managed by a group of individuals or “commanders.” These individuals may be the
local fire chief who assumes command during the initial fire, rescue, and
medical responses to an incident. Command may then transfer to the local law
enforcement authorities when the fire-rescue-medical threat has been neutralized
and the need exists to conduct preliminary investigations in order to preserve
evidence and identify witnesses. Command may then transfer to another agency
such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation if there is a suspicion of
The selection of respiratory protection needed during an incident will vary
depending on what stage an incident is in, what the respiratory hazard is, and
what the airborne concentration of that particular contaminant may be. The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respirator Standard, 29 CFR
19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.134 requires employers to select a respirator that is certified by the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH is the
federal agency responsible for certifying the reliability, safety, and efficacy
of respiratory protection.
At the initial stages of an
emergency response, the hazard or contaminant is not always known and
unless air samples are collected, the concentration cannot be determined.
When responding to an incident that may involve an unknown hazard, it is
expected that responders will protect themselves with the highest level of
respiratory protection. Appendix B of OSHA standard 29 CFR 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.120
titled “Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response” (commonly
referred to as HAZWOPER), divides personal protective equipment (PPE) into
four categories based on the degree of protection afforded. Level A
protection is to be selected when the greatest level of skin, respiratory,
and eye protection is required. Level B protection is to be selected when
the highest level of respiratory protection is necessary but a lesser
level of skin protection is required. (As this article is being written
strictly for respiratory protection, personal protective equipment for
skin and eye protection will not be discussed at this time.) Appropriate
respiratory protection for Level A and Level B is a positive pressure,
full face-piece self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), or positive
pressure supplied air respirator with escape SCBA, approved by NIOSH. At
a fire scene, for example, firefighters will commonly wear an SCBA to
protect them from potential respiratory hazards from unknown
concentrations of hazardous substances expected at fire scenes. Hazardous
Materials (HAZ-MAT) Response Team members will wear SCBA upon an initial
response to a chemical emergency.
On May 31, 2002, NIOSH issued certification for the first SCBA that firefighters
and other first responders will use in environments containing chemical,
biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents. This certification program
is part of a multi-agency effort between the National Institute for Standards
and Technology (NIST), OSHA, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
to develop standards for all types of counter-terrorism equipment. NIOSH
evaluates SCBA use in CBRN environments using the following criteria:
NIOSH 42 CFR 84, Subpart H - approval
demonstrates that the SCBA is acceptable for industrial usage.
NFPA Standard 1981 for Open-Circuit SCBA
for Firefighters - compliance demonstrates that the SCBA can meet flame, heat
and other requirements that are important to protect first responders.
Special Tests under NIOSH 42 CFR 84.63(c)
* Chemical Agent Resistance Against
Distilled Sulfur Mustard and Sarin - assesses the extent to which components and
materials of the SCBA can be penetrated and permeated when in a hazardous
chemical environment for an extended period.
* Laboratory Respirator Protection
Level - assesses the ability of the SCBA to fit a wide range of facial dimensions.
SCBA respirators that demonstrate compliance with the CBRN criteria are issued
an approval label that is to be displayed in a visible location on the backplate.
If an SCBA is CBRN-approved by NIOSH, it will always carry the label as shown
below. If the CBRN Agent Approval label is not on the SCBA, the device is not
approved by NIOSH for use by emergency responders in CBRN environments. The
approval number for an SCBA approved for CBRN environments always includes a
CBRN suffix (TC-13F-XXXXCBRN). For a list of those respirators that have been
certified by NIOSH for CBRN purposes, refer to the CBRN NIOSH Approved
Respirators Web page at
CBRN Agent Approval Label
The devices certified to date are certain versions of some models manufactured
by Interspiro, Inc., Scott Health and Safety, and Mine Safety Appliances Company
(MSA). For each of these models, there is a version that NIOSH has certified
only for traditional use, and a version that NIOSH has certified for use by
emergency responders for CBRN environments.
When the concentration and type of airborne contaminant are known, Level C
protection may be used as appropriate. Respiratory protection for Level C
includes NIOSH approved full-face or half-mask air-purifying respirators. These
may be gas masks, filter/cartridge respirators, filtering facepiece (dust mask)
respirators, or powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR).
Chemical-Biological Gas Mask
In preparation for response operations involving a homeland security incident,
many law enforcement personnel have been issued a chemical-biological gas mask.
These gas masks are negative pressure and are approved for protection against
chloroacetophenone (CN), chlorobenzylidene (CS), and as a PPublished by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office0 particulate
filter. Law enforcement personnel commonly wear these gas masks for
protection during riot control and civil disturbances. This type of
respiratory protection was discussed at length in an article published in the
Spring 2000 issue of the
CONN-OSHA Quarterly titled “Respiratory Protection for Riot Control and
Civil Disturbances.” This issue can be accessed at
There are many other types of gas masks available. These gas masks are designed
to remove a specific type of contaminant from the air and can never be worn in
an oxygen deficient atmosphere, that is, an atmosphere with an oxygen content
below 19.5%. Gas masks are only effective when used with the correct filtering
device. Gas masks may be used for escape only from atmospheres that are
immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH), but can never be used for entry
into such environments. The OSHA Respirator Standard defines IDLH as “an
atmosphere that poses an immediate threat to life, would cause irreversible
adverse health effects, or would impair an individual’s ability to escape from a
The certification procedure by NIOSH for nonpowered, air-purifying,
particulate-filter respirators (dust masks and half-masks with a dust filter)
was significantly changed in 1995. Although there were many reasons for
implementing the new certification procedure, the most significant improvement
to the new rule allows health-care and emergency response workers using high
efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for protection against tuberculosis to
select from a wider range of approved respiratory devices. The certification
regulation provides for three levels of filter efficiency (95%, 99%, and 99.97%)
and three levels of resistance to filter efficiency degradation labeled N (Not
resistant to oil), R (Resistant to oil), and P (oil Proof).
Health-care and emergency response (fire, police, and ambulance) workers
typically use N95 or NPublished by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office0 disposable respirators to protect themselves from
biological agents such as tuberculosis. The NPublished by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office0 disposable respirator is
commonly referred to as a HEPA respirator.
N95 Dust Mask
The OSHA Respirator Standard defines a PAPR as an air-purifying respirator that
uses a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements to the
inlet covering. The PAPR consists of a power source for moving the air that is
to be breathed and is carried by the wearer. It is usually powered by a battery
powered blower. The air is purified by being blown through a filter and then
into a respirator face covering. The covering can be tight-fitting (forming a
complete seal with the face) or loose fitting with a hood or helmet that does
not rely on a face-to-facepiece seal.
In September and October 2001, eleven inhalation and eleven cutaneous (four
suspected and seven confirmed) anthrax cases resulted from intentional terrorist
activity. Five of the eleven inhalation infections were fatal. As we all have
learned, most of the cases were linked to unexpected workplace exposures to
anthrax spores contained in letters mailed through the United States Postal
Service. OSHA recommends that modified Level C protection be worn during the
investigation and clean-up of a known anthrax release where the agent is
dispersed from a letter or package that can be easily bagged and there is no
potential for splashing potentially contaminated materials. The respiratory
protection recommended is a tight-fitting, full-face PAPR. If anthrax spores
may have been dispersed with an aerosol-generating device but are no longer
being released, or where there is a high potential for splashing potentially
contaminated materials then Level B protection as described earlier is
recommended. Level A protection is recommended if the response or clean-up of a
release of anthrax involves an unknown dispersal method, an aerosol-generating
device and the release is still occurring, or the release has stopped but there
is no information about the duration of the release or the airborne
concentration of the anthrax spores. Personnel assisting in decontamination of
emergency responders or clean-up personnel should be in PPE that is equivalent
to one level below that required for the responder or clean-up personnel (e.g.,
if responder in Level A, then decontamination personnel in Level B).
Escape only respirators are respirators intended to be used only for emergency
exit. These respirators can never be used to enter a contaminated
environment. Usually they are used in conjunction with another type of
respirator (e.g., SCBA or supplied air respirator).
In summary, the proper selection of respiratory protection is an essential
element for ensuring the safety and health of emergency workers when responding
to incidents involving inhalation hazards. By requiring proper respirator
selection, medical evaluations, fit testing, and training, to name a few
requirements, the OSHA respiratory protection standard establishes the framework
to ensure that employees are adequately protected from inhalation hazards. Take
time to analyze an incident, determine your role in the event, and select the
proper type of respirator before rushing in. It may be the difference between
life and death.
In addition to having enforcement authority in the public sector, CONN-OSHA
provides free consultations to public and private sector employers. These
consultations help employers recognize and control workplace hazards, as well as
prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. During the consultation, the
consultant can also assist in developing and implementing safety and health
programs. If you would like help complying with the Respirator Standard, other
OSHA requirements, or wish to schedule a consultation, contact the CONN-OSHA
office at (860) 566-4550.
The email addresses of the CONN-OSHA staff have changed. If you plan to send
an email, call first to ensure that
you are using the correct address.
CONN-OSHA will be sponsoring
bioterrorism training seminars for emergency response personnel during the
late fall and early winter. For more information about these sessions,
contact John Able at (860) 566-4550 x398.
If you would like to subscribe to the
CONN-OSHA Quarterly, send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and in the body of the email, include the
following: subscribe conn-osha your first name your last name
It is now distributed only electronically. If you do not have electronic
access, please call Lisa Costanzo at (860) 566-4550 x388.
If you have a topic that you would like to see featured in the
please send an email to:
OSHA 300 Recordkeeping Training – What Does and Does Not Need to be
October 15, 2003**
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the requirements and procedures
related to the OSHA 300 log. The class will help develop skills to accurately
report occupational injuries and illnesses. Resources and reference materials
will be provided. This class will be held at the Labor Department offices
located at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT. Class will be held from
9:00 am – 12 noon in Conference Room A on the second floor. Pre-registration
Breakfast Roundtable Discussion Group**
October 21, 2003, November 18, 2003,
December 16, 2003, January 20, 2004
The safety and health of any company can sometimes be an overlooked priority.
The Labor Department’s CONN-OSHA Division has recently taken steps to help your
business keep up to date on the latest information and resources. On the
third Tuesday of every month, CONN-OSHA offers Breakfast Roundtable
Discussion Group Meetings that cover subjects ranging from evacuation plans
and fire extinguishers to air quality and ergonomics. The intent of these free
90-minute workshops is to discuss safety and health issues in a supportive and
informal environment. The roundtable meetings are held from 8:15 am to 9:45 am
at the Division’s offices located at 38 Wolcott Hill Road, Wethersfield.
Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.
Powered Industrial Trucks**
December 9, 2003 and January 13, 2004
Whether you call them jitneys, hi los, forklifts, or lift trucks, powered
industrial trucks are as widely used as your debit card. It seems everywhere
you look these days, lift trucks are in use performing a wide variety of
material-handling tasks. With well over one million lift trucks in operation
today, emphasis must be placed on both operator and pedestrian safety. This
half-day program will help you understand OSHA safety and health regulations
governing these pieces of equipment, in addition to providing you with
assistance in developing training for your lift truck operators and other
affected employees. This class will be held at the Labor Department offices
located at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT. Class will be held from
9:00 am – 12 noon in Conference Room A on the second floor. Pre-registration
To register for one of these sessions, please
call John Able at (860) 566-4550 ext. 398 or
send an email to email@example.com
complete list of upcoming training sessions, visit our web site at
is no charge for any of these training sessions.
Garbage Collector Dies After
Falling From Back of Moving Garbage Truck
On Friday, February 14, 2003, a 48-year-old male city garbage collector died
after falling from the back of a moving garbage truck. The victim, another
garbage collector, and the driver of the garbage truck were following a routine
collection route of picking up residential household garbage. At approximately
8:00 a.m., the truck proceeded to make a left turn onto a residential street
while both collectors were riding on the rear steps. At or about the time the
truck was finishing its turn, the collector on the passenger side rear fell off
and struck the pavement.
The 1997 garbage truck involved in this incident was a residential rear-end
loader with a capacity of 32 cubic yards. The employees were standing/riding on
the employer-modified rear riding steps. The employer had modified the rear
riding steps to wrap around the back of the truck.
The manufacturer states the most protected position for riders on these
vehicles is at the side as opposed to the rear for the following reasons:
Stability - Acceleration/deceleration inertial forces are
more easily and comfortably accommodated by the rider if they are able to stand
with their feet braced in the line with the direction of travel and with the
hand holds located approximately equally spaced about and above the center line
of the riding positions.
Visibility - The rider is visible to the driver by way of
the rear view mirrors. The driver can be sure their riders are in a secure
position before moving the vehicle.
Mounting/Dismounting - In mounting or dismounting the step
the rider is out of the travel of the vehicle.
Rear End Collisions - Riders are removed from the potential
hazard of rear end collisions.
Dislodged - In the event of a
rider becoming dislodged from the side riding position, they
will not be in the path of following vehicles.
Packer Mechanism - Rider is protected from injury, which
could occur should the rider be at the rear and the packer mechanism be
In respect to the objections of
riding at the side for fear of being hit, swept off, crushed or otherwise
injured by trees, branches, walls, etc., manufacturer injury data does not
indicate a problem. Whereas, injuries resulting from falls in front of oncoming
vehicles, rear end collisions, and being backed over by their own vehicle are
not uncommon for those persons who ride on the back.
conscientious attitude and observance of all known safe-operating practices are
the best way to prevent accidents. Before operating any piece of equipment,
become thoroughly familiar with the instructions contained in the Operator’s
THE CONNECTICUT SAFETY SOCIETY SYMPOSIUM
November 4, 2003
Ramada Plaza Hotel, Meriden, Connecticut
The Connecticut Safety
Society is continuing its tradition of offering a one-day symposium open to
safety, health and environmental professionals, risk managers and healthcare
providers, human resource and facility personnel, safety committee members,
students and to anyone interested in safety, health and environmental issues.
Keynote speakers include representatives from CONN-OSHA, Federal OSHA and Chris
Hart of the Federal Aviation Administration. Also, practical presentations by
experts in the fields of Mold, Ergonomics, and Viruses are on the agenda.
Various vendors, including CONN-OSHA, will be exhibiting their products and
services throughout the Symposium. This is an event you will want to attend.
Contact Dave Gelpke at 203-639-2440 or send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
to request Connecticut Safety Society Symposium information.
March 01, 2017