Does your workplace need a respiratory protection program? Here are 3 things you can do now.

P100 Half Mask Respirator

Work-related diseases can be just as deadly as accidents on the job. In fact, they account for more fatalities in Canada than accidents such as falls, motor-vehicle incidents, fires and more. Occupational disease are also some of the most costly claims. To help prevent these dangers, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development is inspecting workplaces where employees use respirators. To ensure compliance and protect your workers, it’s important to have a comprehensive respiratory protection program in place.

Develop or review your respiratory protection program.

If your employees use respiratory protection such as N95 masks, elastomeric half-masks, or full face masks, you’ll need a program that includes several elements. A few important elements of your program should include:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Assessment of airborne hazards
  • Procedures for selecting, caring for, and using respirators
  • Training for users
  • Fit-testing
  • Record-keeping
Chart depicting work-related fatalities in 2019. Almost half are caused by respiratory diseases and cancers.

Assess airborne hazards in your workplace.

To ensure the right type of respirator is used for the specific hazards present in your workplace, it’s important to conduct an assessment. This will help determine if the hazards are chemical or biological, if they’re fumes, gases, vapors, or whether the atmosphere is oxygen deficient, and how much may be present in the air. This information is mandatory under Regulation 833 in Ontario and is critical for selecting the right type of respirator.


Train users on proper respirator use and care.

It’s crucial for workers to understand how to properly use a respirator, its limitations, and how to care for it. This includes being clean-shaven, as facial hair can interfere with the seal of the respirator. Additionally, workers should understand that respirators have limitations and that filters or cartridges need to be changed regularly.


Ensure your workers are fit-tested.

To ensure the respirator properly fits the worker’s face, fit-testing must be done for the specific model and size of respirator used. This is different from a user seal check, which is done by the worker each time a respirator is put on. Fit-testing uses a special technique, such as testing whether the worker can smell an aromatic aerosol while using their respirator to check if it fits properly.


There are many resources available to help your workplace develop a proper respiratory protection program, including

Canadian Standards Association’s Z94.4-18: Selection, use, and care of respirators

WorkSafeBC’s Sample Respirator Program.


Need help?

For more information on fit-testing, training, or developing a program, contact WorkBright.