The new American National Standard Practices for Respiratory Protection, Z88.2-2015, which was approved by ANSI on March 4, 2015, overcame significant challenges during the past two decades. The updates to the 1992 revision of Z88.2 were substantially delayed while professional disagreements over appropriate assigned protection factors (APFs) for air-purifying half-mask respirators were addressed through a lengthy appeals process. In December 2010, the ANSI Board of Standards Review Panel denied the final appeal and recommended that a new subcommittee start the review process.
The new Z88.2 subcommittee was established in October 2011. It had the distinct advantage of the previous draft standard along with the many updates in related federal regulations and guidance documents, national consensus standards, and advances in relevant research.
RELATED GUIDANCE AND REGULATIONS
Subsequent to the ANSI approval of the 1992 version of Z88.2, NIOSH promulgated its final rule on Respiratory Protective Devices. That regulation updated performance standards for air-purifying particulate respirators, and NIOSH published several guidance documents addressing their selection, use, and limitations. OSHA revised its Respiratory Protection Standard in 1998. Later, the agency added definitions and requirements for APFs and Maximum Use Concentrations (MUCs). OSHA APFs were established after thorough evaluation of available peer-reviewed literature, including workplace protection factor studies, comments submitted to the public record, and testimony from hearings. Proper respirator selection is an important component of an effective respiratory protection program, and the OSHA APFs provide employers with necessary information for selecting respirators for employees exposed to airborne contaminants. OSHA also revised its fit-testing procedures in 2004. The agency published various guides in support of these updated regulations, including a guide on APFs. A recent update to the Department of Transportation’s specifications for shipping containers also informed the work of the Z88.2 subcommittee. Other national consensus standards considered in the preparation of Z88.2-2015 are listed in the “Resources” sidebar below. The subcommittee considered a substantial body of research that was published after the 1992 revision of Z88.2. This information related to the proper use and performance of respiratory protection in general, including workplace and laboratory evaluations of NIOSH-approved particulate respirators and the effectiveness of fit-testing.
BY RICHARD W. METZLER, JAMES S. JOHNSON, DAVID L. SPELCE, AND TIMOTHY R. REHAK
Originally published in AIHA Synergist September 2015