Respiratory Protection Program

Respirator Cleaning, Maintenance & Repair

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: August 3rd, 2012
Topics: Airborne Contaminants | PPE |

Cleaning off a contaminated respirator

The OSHA Respiratory Protection standard (Sec. 1910.134(h)) requires employers to furnish respirator users equipment that’s clean, sanitary and in good working order. To meet this requirement, your Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) must include a system and schedule for ensuring proper care and maintenance of respiratory equipment. Here’s an overview of the 4 kinds of procedures your system must include.



1. Respirator Cleaning & Disinfection

The RPP should list your respirator cleaning and disinfection procedures. Respirators must be cleaned and disinfected using the procedures set out in Appendix B-2 of the Standard. 

Exception: As an alternative, it’s also acceptable to use cleaning procedures recommended by the respirator manufacturer, as long as those procedures are equally effective. Respirators must be cleaned and disinfected at the following intervals:



Issued for exclusive use of a worker

As often as necessary to keep it in sanitary condition

Issued to more than one worker

Before it’s worn by a different individual

Maintained for emergency use

After each use

Used in fit testing and training

After each use

List in the RPP who’s responsible for cleaning and disinfecting, e.g., the RPP administrator or workers themselves.

2. Storage of Respirators

The RPP should stipulate that all respirators must be stored in a way that protects them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture and damaging chemicals and prevents deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve.

Emergency respirators must also be kept accessible to the work area, stored in compartments or covers that are clearly marked as containing emergency respirators and stored in accordance with manufacturer instructions.

3. Inspection of Respirators

The RPP should include the following respirator inspection requirements:

  • Respirators used in routine situations must be inspected before each use and during cleaning;
  • All respirators maintained for use in emergency situations must inspected at least monthly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations;
  • All respirators maintained for use in emergency situations must be checked for proper function before and after each use; and
  • Emergency escape-only respirators must be inspected before being carried into the workplace for use.

Respirator inspections must include 2 types of checks:

  • Checks of the respirator function, tightness of connections and condition of the various parts including, the facepiece, head straps, valves, connecting tube and cartridges, canisters or filters; and
  • A check of elastomeric parts for pliability and signs of deterioration.

Self-contained breathing apparatus must be inspected monthly to ensure that:

  • Air and oxygen cylinders are maintained in a fully charged state and recharged when the pressure falls to 90% of the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level; and
  • Regulator and warning devices function properly.

You must keep written records certifying the inspection of respirators maintained for emergency use that list:

  • The date the inspection was performed;
  • The name (or signature) of the person who did the inspection;
  • The inspection’s findings;
  • Required action to correct problems identified by the inspection; and
  • A serial number or other means of identifying the inspected respirator.

The above information must also be listed on a tag or label attached to the emergency use respirator’s storage compartment that’s kept with the respirator or included in inspection reports stored as paper or electronic files. You must maintain this information until it’s replaced following a subsequent certification.

4. Repair of Respirators

Be clear in the RPP that respirators that fail an inspection or otherwise found to be defective must be removed from service and either thrown out discarded or repaired or adjusted in accordance with the following procedures:

  • Respirator repairs or adjustments must be made only by persons appropriately trained to perform such operations and use only the respirator manufacturer’s NIOSH-approved parts designed for the respirator;
  • All repairs must be made according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications for that particular repair; and
  • Reducing and admission valves, regulators, and alarms must be adjusted or repaired only by the manufacturer or a technician trained by the manufacturer.


Respirator Maintenance & Care Checklist