Will Cal/OSHA update fit testing procedures for respiratory protection equipment to align with federal standards?

Yes, Cal/OSHA will be updating their fit testing procedures for respiratory protection equipment to match federal standards. On March 21, 2024, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted new Appendix A of Section 5144, which includes quantitative fit testing protocols for the Respiratory Protection Standard.

This update is in accordance with Labor Code Section 142.3, which requires the Board to adopt regulations that are at least as effective as federal regulations in addressing occupational safety and health issues. The U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Federal OSHA) recently implemented regulations for additional ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocols, which went into effect on September 26, 2019.

The Cal/OSHA Board has based their rulemaking action on the explanation of the federal regulations, which was published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2019. The Board’s adopted regulation is nearly identical to the federal regulation, with minor editorial and format differences.

The new fit testing protocols will apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry. These protocols, which include the modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half mask elastomeric respirators, and the modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators, will serve as alternatives to the four existing quantitative fit testing protocols already listed in Appendix A of the Respiratory Protection Standard.

The Cal/OSHA Board has noted that California Labor Code Section 142.3(a)(3) exempts them from providing a comment period when an adopted regulation is substantially the same as federal standards. However, the Board still provided a comment period and held a public hearing to gather input on whether there were any compelling reasons for California to deviate from the federal standards.

To view the complete rulemaking file, please visit the Cal/OSHA Standards Board page. The proposed text for the new fit testing protocols is also available on the website.

This information is based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service provided by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board. 

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