The information presented is based on current United States federal OSHA requirements 29 CFR 1910.134 in place as of March 2016. U.S. state or other country requirements may be different. Requirements can change in the future. No warrantees are made. This paper contains general information as of March 2016 and should not be relied upon to make specific decisions.


Selecting an appropriate respirator for a job or task is a critical step in respirator program management. Following regulatory requirements can lead the EHS professional to a particular class of respirators, but simply selecting a respirator with a sufficiently high APF may not always be the most effective solution.

The following points covered in this paper may help the EHS professional in their practice:

  • An overview of the hierarchy of hazard controls

  • Respiratory selection according to 1910.134 and a discussion of various aids such as the NIOSH Decision Logic to assist the EHS professional in making an informed selection

  • Selected non-respiratory factors, such as temperature, work load, elevation, communication requirements, visibility, and decontamination that must be considered during the respirator selection process

  • Above the shoulders PPE interaction and compatibility

  • Making a holistic assessment of the commitment required to implement effective use of the respirator selected: initial equipment cost, durability/maintenance/replacement costs, training, and record keeping

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