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Respiratory Protection

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Hi, and welcome to the course. If you are a safety manager, supervisor, committee member, or someone who is entering into the occupational safety and health field, this course will help you understand your important responsibilities.

Course Introduction

H.G. Wells

In H.G. Wells’ classic novel, The War of the Worlds, invading Martians wreak havoc among helpless humans until a common form of bacteria does them in. Most likely, the bacteria was in the air along with gases, smoke, and dust raised along the Martians’ path of destruction.

During a normal day, the air we breathe is mostly oxygen and nitrogen — although it still contains trace amounts of harmful gases, smoke, vapors, and dust produced by us and Mother Nature. Fortunately, our lungs have a series of mechanical and biological barriers that keep such contaminants from harming us. But healthy lungs aren’t invincible. With repeated overexposure to toxins, these protective barriers break down, resulting in irritation, discomfort, or disease. Unfortunately, we may not even be aware of the damage until it’s too late to recover.

Breathing in the Workplace

Black lung, farmer’s lung, asbestosis, silicosis — You’ve probably heard of these work-related respiratory diseases and know of their consequences. These are just a few of the medical conditions that result when workers breathe contaminated air. However, protecting workers can be difficult because:

  • there are so many types of contaminants; and
  • there is no single method for controlling them in all workplaces.

If you’re a business owner or manager who wants basic information about protecting your employees from respiratory hazards, this course will get you started. The course summarizes respiratory hazards, how to evaluate the hazards, and how to control them. And, it describes what employers should know before their employees use respirators.

You’ll learn about the basic types of respirators and what you need to do to develop an effective respiratory protection program – the essential requirement of OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, 1910.134. This standard specifies what you must do to ensure that your employees use respirators safely and responsibly.


To begin your training, click on the module links below. If you are just starting this course, you should start with module 1.

  1. About Respiratory Hazards
  2. Respirators
  3. The Respiratory Protection Program
  4. Medical Evaluations and Fit Testing
  5. Inspection and Training