Several million American workers wear respirators on a regular basis, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that nonagricultural firms have a respiratory protection program. This article uses the OSHA inspection data base to examine all inspections in manufacturing in 47 states from 1999 through 2006; the examination starts with 1999 because an expanded OSHA respiratory program standard became effective in late 1998. The article identifies all inspections and all establishments at which respiratory protection (RP) violations were cited, and it compares the prevalence of violations by industry with the prevalence reported in a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of respirator use. Multivariate analyses are used to identify the roles of industry, establishment size, union status, and employee participation in the inspection on noncompliance at the inspection level and for repeated inspections at the same establishment. The authors find that the pattern of noncompliance across industries mostly mirrors the survey findings about the prevalence of requirements for respirator use, although the chemical industry has fewer violations than expected. The probability of citing an RP violation is similar across establishment size categories, except for a large drop for establishments with over 200 workers. The presence of a worker accompanying the inspector increases the probability that a respiratory program violation will be cited; the presence of a union slightly decreases it.

Are you providing a copy of 1910.134 Appednix D to each employee who wears a filtering facepieces (dust masks) on a “voluntary basis”? Are you controlling these filtering facepieces (dust masks) so that ONLY employees who have been provided with a copy of Appendix D have access to these filtering facepieces (dust masks)?  For the past 15 or so years I, and I know of many other safety pro’s, have apparently been in error with regards to our obligation(s) when employees wear filtering facepieces (dust masks) on a “voluntary basis”.  I was under the impression that the exception found in 1910.134(c)(2)(ii) exempted the need to have any kind of respiratory protection program if the ONLY respirator used on site involved the voluntary use of filtering facepieces (dust masks).  This is really concerning to me, as I have had dozens of discussions with current and retired OSHA personnel, some as high as Area Director, and it seems that even some OSHA personnel may find this position confusing.  Here's why...