Individuals working in agriculture are exposed to many different respiratory hazards - dust, chemicals, animal dander, microorganisms, organic matter, mold, diesel fumes and more. As a result, respiratory disease is the leading illness among farmers. Let us help you protect your respiratory health and comply with respiratory protection regulations. The Respiratory Protection Program is made possible with support from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and the North Carolina Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund.
To know the steps you necessary to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Worker Protection Standard (WPS), refer to the Respiratory Protection Compliance Checklist
Not sure if your establishment is subject to the WPS? Go to www.epa.gov. For specific WPS respiratory protection requirements click here. For filtering facepiece and respirator cartridge change schedule requirements click here. For an example of a Change Log click here.
To know the steps you need to take to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's (OSHA)Respiratory Standard go to www.osha.gov.
Not sure if you're subject to OSHA? Got to www.osha.gov or contact the NC Department of Labor's Agricultural Safety and Health Bureau or call 1-800-625-2267. If your operation is subject to OSHA and respirators are required, then you will need to develop a written Respiratory Protection Plan for Required Use (click here). If you are subject to OSHA and respirators are being used voluntarily by employees, then you will need to develop a written Respiratory Protection Program for Voluntary Use (click here)BACK TO TOP
Before starting the medical clearance and respirator fit test process, it is important to know what type of respiratory protection is required for the task that you, your workers and/or family members will be doing. For pesticides, you will find this information under the Hazardous Statements: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Section of the product label (usually on page 1 or 2).
To select respiratory protection for other agricultural exposures, click here.
Still not sure what type of respirator and/or cartridges are needed? Refer to the Know Your Respirators Card below or give us a call at 252-744-1008. A PPE Inventory Sheet will help you keep up with and re-order each type of PPE needed.BACK TO TOP
Medical clearance is required PRIOR to completing a respirator fit test by the US EPA for individuals subject to Risk Mitigation Measures for Soil Fumigants and the Worker Protection Protection Standard and by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when respirators are required by agricultural operations having more than 10 full-time employees. Although medical clearance is not required for other respirator use in agriculture, it is highly recommended.
On-line training for healthcare providers on how to complete a respirator medical evaluation can be found at ASHCE: Respirator Medical Evaluation (gahec.org) .
EPA and OSHA require that a respirator fit test is completed prior to using a respirator and then once annually. If more than one type of respirator will be used, a fit test must be completed for each type of respirator. To avoid having to have multiple respirators and multiple fit tests, select the respirator that will provide the highest level of protection needed.
Respirator fit tests may be qualitative or quantitative. An example of an individual fit test record can be found here. An example of a group fit test record can be found here. Instructions on how to make a respirator fit test pocket card can be found here.
The Institute is happy to conduct respirator fit tests for you, to help you identify a local provider or teach you how to conduct qualitative fit tests yourself. If you are already conducting qualitative fit tests or plan to, please review guidance for Qualitative Fit Test Hygiene-COVID-19. For more information, give us a call at 252-744-1008.BACK TO TOP
The Institute is happy to provide medical clearance, respirator fit tests and training for you. For more information, give us a call at 252-744-1008. For a list of other providers across North Carolina and adjoining states, see the Provider List.BACK TO TOP
Respirators should not be purchased until after an individual has successfully completed the medical clearance and respirator fit test. To be in compliance with EPA and OSHA, the respirator purchased for the individual must be the same as the respirator listed on the individual’s respirator fit test card (i.e., manufacturer, model number and size). Respirators may be purchased using the Institute's cost share program (see below) or through direct purchase from a personal protective equipment vendor. For a list of possible vendors, click here.BACK TO TOP
Thanks to the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services -Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund, farms and nurseries are eligible for a 50/50 cost share to help them comply with the respiratory protection requirements imposed by the EPA's Worker Protection Standard. Cost share may be accessed immediately when you purchase respirators or cartridges (North or 3M) at an event hosted by the Institute or by direct ship. To learn more about cost share, contact the Institute at 252.744.1008 or Robin Tutor Marcom firstname.lastname@example.orgBACK TO TOP
EPA requires that any individual using a respirator be trained in their native language prior to using a respirator. For more information on required training components click here and a sample training documentation training form, click here. To learn about steps for cleaning and storing a respirators, click here.BACK TO TOP