Occupational Health and Safety Program

Respiratory Protection Program

The Research Occupational Health and Safety Program (R-OHSP) oversees the UGA Research Respiratory Protection Program. Although these programs are closely linked, they operate independently.

The RPP is open to anyone using a respirator as part of a research protocol or in the operation or maintenance of a research space.  Additionally, other respirator uses may be considered on a case-by-case basis.  For additional information, please contact us at occhealth@uga.edu

Types of Respirators:

Powered Air Purifying Respiratory (PAPR)
Primarily used as protection from biohazards
Requires live annual training through the Office of Biosafety
Voluntary use discouraged

Elastomeric Respirators (full face)
Primarily used as protection from chemical vapors and aerosols
Requires biennial spirometry and medical clearance questionnaire
Requires online training
Requires annual fit testing
Voluntary use requires fit testing

Tight-Fitted Respirator (e.g. N95)
Primarily used as protection from biohazards and allergens
Requires biennial spirometry  – currently suspended and medical clearance questionnaire
Requires online training
Requires annual fit testing – currently qualitative
Voluntary use allowed and fit testing recommended

Will the RPP provide a respirator for me?

No.  You must obtain your own respirator and bring it with you for fit-testing, if applicable. We cannot provide respirators.  Additionally, we discourage the use of any respirators that are not OSHA-approved (e.g. KN95)

Can I decline participation in the RPP?

Usually.  If you want to decline, you must complete a declination. There are some specific projects that require RPP participation, especially projects involving BSL3 pathogens. To determine if you can decline participation, please check with your supervisor or contact the Office of Biosafety at biosfty@uga.edu

Is there a charge for participation in the RPP?

Respiratory protection services are provided to the UGA research community free-of-charge, for all projects with mandated respirator use. However, there may be charges associated with the voluntary use of respirators (when not required by a research protocol or at the direction of a physician).

Where are services provided?

Typically, the RPP services can be obtained with other preventative healthcare services at the occupational health clinic on the Health Sciences Campus. We will make every effort to consolidate these services so that only one appointment is necessary.  Approval and appointments are required. Occasionally, the R-OHSP physician requires a pre-respirator assessment prior to approval at a local community healthcare clinic. For more information, contact the occupational health nurse at occhealth@uga.edu

How do I enroll in the RPP?

If your respirator use is related to research, you must enroll in the RPP through enrollment in the R-OHSP. The R-OHSP risk assessment process will recommend your respirator use and get you started on the process.  If your respirator use is not research related, you will not need to enroll in the R-OHSP.  Please contact us at occhealth@uga.edu for non-research RPP services.

Before your Fit Test Appointment:

  • Consult your supervisor or Principal Investigator regarding the type of respirator that you will need
  • You must be cleared for scheduling before you will be able to make an appointment in PEP.
  • The clinic typically operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Obtain the appropriate respirator and bring it with you to your fit test appointment. It may be a good idea to have a few sizes and types of respirators, so that there are choices if one type/size doesn’t fit your face shape.
  • Please arrive on time and follow all posted directions regarding entry. Do not eat or drink anything for 15 minutes prior to your appointment.
  • Bring any other PPE that you will also be wearing to make sure that it does not interfere with respirator use or fit.
  • Make sure your face is clean shaven. Beards, goatees or stubble will interfere with the respirator seal.
  • If you are sick, please reschedule your appointment.
  • Please make your appointment at least one week in advance.

How will my RPP records be maintained?

Preventative healthcare records associated with employment-related occupational health services are considered employee health records. They are handled in a confidential manner and securely stored. Electronic copies of many RPP records, including your approval, are maintained on PEP in the User’s private Snapshot Occupational Health folder. This folder is only accessible by the individual and PEP administration. This approval document will provide specific information on the size and type of respirator that you have been approved for.

Once I have respirator approval, can I wear a different respirator?

NO!  You may only wear the respirator size and type that you are approved for. Wearing a different size, type, or brand of respirator may not offer you adequate protection. Please refer to your Respirator Approval document for the correct respirator specifications for you.

How often must I re-enroll in the RPP?

Fit tests and PAPR training are good for 1 year from the date of respirator approval. Spirometry must be repeated every 2 years. If you have significant changes in your personal health or the structure of your face, you are encouraged to re-enroll at any time.

Current COVID-19 Special Precautions:

  • Due to the risk created by the spirometry procedure, all spirometry assessments are suspended until further notice.
  • Due to the shortage of tight-fitted respirators, all fit testing will be qualitative until further notice.
  • Fitness to wear a respirator will be assessed by the occupational health physician solely on information provided in a questionnaire until further notice. For this reason, all tight-fitted respirator use will be at the risk of the participant. Participants are encouraged to closely self-monitor when using these types of respirators and discontinue use immediately should any problem arise.
  • All participants entering the clinic will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms and can be denied entry if potentially infectious.