Developing a Code of Practice for Respiratory Protective Equipment

December 17, 2019

Understanding Respiratory Code of Practice

What is a Respiratory Code of Practice?

Many provincial Occupational Health and Safety regulatory bodies require employers to develop a Code of Practice (CoP) when a respirator or repository equipment is used at the worksite.

  • The Code of Practice needs to be readily accessible to all workers at the job site.  
  • It needs to be re-evaluated every 12 months. 
  • It needs to outline how you train your employees on respirators.

Information Included Within a Respiratory Code of Practice:

A CoP is a written document that details the:

  • Selection of a respirator 
  • Maintenance of the respirator 
  • Use of a respirator for a task or job site

Requirements for Respiratory Code of Practice Training

Proper respiratory protective equipment training should include the following:

  • A review of the respiratory Code of Practice document
  • Information regarding possible airborne hazards within the workplace 
    • What is the hazard?
    • How can it harm me?
    • What are the health effects from respiratory exposure?
    • Is the amount of oxygen in the work area adequate?
    • Is the supplied air free of toxic contaminants?
  • Information regarding the respirator and onsite respiratory protective equipment 
    • How does this respirator protect me?
    • What are the limitations of this respirator?
    • How do I test a respirator for a correct fit?
    • How do I properly put on and take off a respirator?
    • How do I minimize respiratory contamination to myself and co-workers?

Additional Essential Elements in a Code of Practice for Respirators

The following elements should be included within a workplace Code of Practice when respirators are worn.

1. Company Health and Safety Policy

Company Health and Safety Policy and a statement on whether use of the respirator is mandatory or not should be included within the Code of Practice.

2. Contact Information

Contact information of a person who is competent to answer questions on respirators.

Maintenance, Cleaning and Storage

Maintenance, cleaning and storage very important to ensure the effectiveness and lifespan of the respiratory equipment. This should be detailed in the CoP.

Respiratory Equipment Cartridges and filters

If applicable, the cartridge and filters used for the designated respirators should include details on their maintenance and replacement schedule. (e.g. end of task, end of shift, monthly)

Emergency Situations

Emergency saturations that may be encountered for the task or jobsite and how this may affect the use of the respirator and instruction/exercises on what the worker should do.

Clean-Shaven Policy for Respirator Use

A Clean-Shaven Policy in a Code of Practice for respirators is important to include as facial hair will compromise the seal of a respirator and reduce its effectiveness.

Best Practices for Implementation of the Code of Practice

1. Respiratory Code of Practice Training

Training on a Respiratory Code of Practice should always be provided by the employer prior to any task done by the employee.

2. Medical Clearance

Complete a medical clearance for each worker so they are considered able to wear a respirator. This includes considering physiological and psychological conditions which may prevent a person from wearing a respirator.

3. Make the Respiratory Code of Practice Available to Workers and Staff

Make the Code of Practice available. Every worker should know where the Respiratory Code of Practice is kept and should be able to answer questions on it. Inspectors often measure the success of implementation based on whether your least experienced worker can answer basic questions on hazard awareness and personal protection.