ANSI Z88.2, “Practices for Respiratory Protection,” was released in March 2015.  This new edition has been in the works for some time, as the previous 1992 Edition was withdrawn in 2002.   Respirators are devices used to protect people from the inhalation of harmful air contaminants in the workplace.  They are also used in oxygen-deficient atmospheres.  In the updated edition, you will get information and guidance on the right way to select, use and maintain respirators as well as how to establish respirator programs.

ANSI Z88.2 was developed after significant changes to the OSHA respiratory protection standard (29CFR 1910.134).

ANSI Z88.2 was developed after significant changes to the OSHA respiratory protection standard (29CFR 1910.134). This means there are new government definitions and requirements for APF’s (Assigned Protection Factors) and MUC’s (Maximum Use Concentrations).  And changes were also made to the OSHA rules for Fit Testing Procedures.

The following examples illustrate some of the more significant updates made in Z88.2-2015. In its Respiratory Protective Devices standard, NIOSH filter designations and efficiency levels identify N, R, and P-series, and high efficiency (HE) PAPR filters. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters include HE PAPR filters, and N100, R100, and P100 non-powered air purifying respirator filters. Only HE PAPR filters and P100 filters are magenta color-coded. These approved respirators, which did not exist when Z88.2-1992 was approved, are addressed in sections of the 2015 revision on respirator classification, selection and use, as well as in informative annexes. Assigned Protection Factors Definitions and terms were updated to be consistent with OSHA and NIOSH regulations, the ISO Respiratory Protective Devices standard and the definitions adopted by the AIHA Respiratory Protection Committee. The term “assigned protection factor” was revised to emphasize that an APF is meaningful only when applied in a fully compliant respirator program.  To support the importance of wearing the respirator during the full period of needed protection, a new annex addressing effective protection factors was added to the standard. The annex illustrates the substantial reduction of protection provided by the respirator when not used for even short periods of time in circumstances that require usage.

The frequency of this outside audit should be determined by the size and complexity of the respirator program and previous audit findings.

The standard makes the distinction between users (employers, respirator program managers, and others) from respirator wearers. The process of checking the fit of the respirator each time the respirator is donned is a role of the wearer previously referred to this responsibility as a “user seal check”; this term has been changed in the 2015 revision to “wearer seal check.” Additional direction on wearer seal checks, which was a non-mandatory recommendation in the 1992 revision, is now a mandatory requirement. The section on Program Administration emphasizes the responsibilities of a single qualified individual to ensure the components of the respirator program are established and implemented. This section also adds a requirement for annual audits of the respirator program by the program administrator and periodic respirator program audits by a knowledgeable, objective person not directly associated with the program. The frequency of this outside audit should be determined by the size and complexity of the respirator program and previous audit findings. These sections help clarify the various responsibilities of respirator us​ers (employers, program managers) and respirator wearers.

Additional Updates Additional updates in in Z88.2-2015 that relate to mandatory standards are listed below:

  • Expands the definition of the term “confined space” to be consistent with the OSHA confined spaces standard and ANSI/ASSE Z117.1, Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces.
  • Updates the term “exposure limit” to “occupational exposure limit.”
  • Adds the term “filtering face pieces” and eliminates the term “disposable RPD.”
  • Qualifies the term “fit factor” to recognize that qualitative fit factors are validated to 100, and clarifies that if a fit factor greater than 100 is required, a quantitative fit-test method should be used to select a properly fitting respirator as defined by ANSI Z88.10-2010, Respirator Fit Test Methods.
  • Adds the term “maximum use concentration.”
  • Adds the term “physician or other licensed health care professional” (PLHCP).
  • Adds the term “written record,” which refers to either paper or electronic records.
  • Reorganizes standard operating procedures (SOPs) and requires special considerations for respirators used for emergency escape, including for personnel assigned to the work area, for visitors entering those work areas, and for anticipated emergency use.
  • Adds a section on respirator selection for bioaerosols.
  • Updates respirator selection for the combined effect of altitude and reduced percentage of oxygen for un-acclimatized individuals.
  • Updates sections on oxygen deficiency, including the addition of a table indicating what types of respirators are required to work safely in increasingly dangerous oxygen-deficient environments.​