A documented respiratory protection program is a core component of ensuring safety in your workplace. Not only is it required by the AS/NZS 1715, it’s valuable to employers because:
- Safe Work inspectors may use it to confirm that all parts of your program are up to par.
- Supervisors and workers can refer to the policies and procedures contained in it, so they know their responsibilities.
- It’s a single resource for keeping records of past training and testing so you know what needs updating and when.
- May assist in reducing ACC levies.
So as an employer, how do you put together a written respiratory protection program and keep it current?
First, describe the general policies the workplace follows to comply with AS/NZS 1715 standards, including everyone’s responsibilities, from management to employees. Then provide the specific procedures for the various parts of the safety program, including:
- Exposure assessment. The methods used to determine what hazards are present and if the levels are unacceptable, i.e. require respiratory protection.
- Respirator selection. The information used to select respirators.
- Medical evaluation. Copies of the evaluation and questionnaires used.
- Fit testing. A description of the procedures used, as well as records of fit tests performed.
- Respirator training. The documentation used when training new employees and performing annual training for the entire workforce.
- Respirator maintenance. Detailed procedures for inspecting and cleaning respirators, and the schedule used for cartridge changes.
- Program evaluation. The criteria used to audit the program at least annually, and a summary of findings.
Every time an aspect of the program is implemented or updated, keep a record of each test and assessment performed, and copies of the procedures and information used to determine what was required.
Review the entire documented program at least once a year to make sure everything is up to date, and add a record of the review.