ucts, abrasive grinding materials, and bulk dust.25 However, an evaluation of this study concluded that the NOHSM was incomplete in that it was not allowed, due to funding constraints, to complete resolution of the ingredients of many of the trade name substances that were identified.26 Furthermore, it does not have any information on the existence of written respirator programs or fit-testing in establishments, nor was any formal investigation conducted about the quality of the information gathered.

Survey of Existing Data and Economic Overview of the Respirator Industry (1982).27 The early NIOSH surveillance studies focused on hazards and exposures and only incidentally collected data on control measures and use of protective equipment. Until the late 1990s, the only study that focused on employee protection was a study that used market segment data based on respirator sales to estimate respirator availability in the workplace by industry. Using sales data provided by industry sources, this study estimated the availability of certified respirators and used those data, in combination with workforce-by-industry data, to generate a “ballpark” estimate of the number of employees using respirators of various types. Based on the estimated number of units sold in 1980 and the average useful life of the units, the study estimated the number of units in use at any time, and expanded that estimate to the number of employees (approximately 4.8 million) having access to certified respirators in 1980.28

OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Cost Survey (1998). In addition to the several surveys sponsored by NIOSH to improve knowledge of hazards and respirator practices, OSHA conducted a Personal Protective Equipment Cost Survey in 1998.29 This survey was conducted to support the rulemaking process leading to the development of a new Respiratory Protection Standard.30 The goal of the survey was to estimate, for different types of PPE, the share of PPE costs borne by employers. Secondarily, the survey sought to estimate PPE use by type and industry.

TABLE 2.1 Respirator Use by Employment Size Group



Less than 20 employees


20-499 employees


More than 500 employees


All establishments


SOURCE: Doney, Brent C., Dennis W. Groce, Donald L. Campbell, Mark F. Greskevitch, William A. Hoffman, Paul J. Middendorf, Girija Syamlal, and Ki Moon Bang. 2005. A survey of private sector respirator use in the United States: An overview of findings. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene May:275.

The contracted survey consisted of 3,722 business establishments under OSHA jurisdiction. Some industries, including finance, real estate, insurance, and services, were excluded because the expected incidence of PPE use was believed to be minimal.

The survey sample frame (the list of all establishments in the population) was the Dun and Bradstreet business establishment database. The survey was conducted by telephone utilizing a computer-assisted telephone interviewing system and had a response rate of 47.1 percent (the response rate is computed based on the number of establishments that were available at the time of the telephone call and, thus, would be an overestimate of the survey response rate computed by today’s standards with a denominator including all eligible establishments in the sample). The survey divided establishment size into three categories—less than 20 employees, 20-499 employees, and more than 500 employees.

The OSHA survey estimated that 13 percent of all establishments (or an estimated 5.2 million employees) used respirators and that 8.3 percent of all employees wore respirators (28.7 percent of construction employees). It also found that larger establishments were associated with higher rates of respirator usage. It postulated that larger establishments are generally more complex and more likely to include operations that require respirator protection and, further, that smaller establishments may be less aware of the need for respirators (see Table 2.1).

These earlier surveys clearly served to whet the appetite of NIOSH for a comprehensive survey of respirator use that would yield not only estimates of the number of establishments and employees using respirators, but also salient facts about the characteristics of that usage. This interest led to commissioning the BLS to conduct the 2001 SRUP.


Greskevitch, M.F., S.S. Bajpayee, J.M. Hale, and D.W. Groce, Results from the National Occupational Health Survey of Mining, Applied Occupational Health and Environmental Hygiene 12(12):924-931, 1997.


Campbell, Don, et al., Respirator Surveillance Team report to DRDS lead team, September 15, 1998, unpublished, p. 11. The incomplete identification of trade name ingredients may also have been due to the lack of an MSHA Communication Standard at the time this study was conducted.


The Granville Corporation, Draft Preliminary Survey of Existing Data and Economic Overview of the Respirator Industry, NIOSH Contract 21-81-1102, Washington, D.C., March 10, 1982.


Ibid., Exhibit 24, p. 41.


Eastern Research Group, PPE Cost Survey Final Report (Task Order 3, Contract J-9-F-0010), Washington, D.C., prepared for the Office of Regulatory Analysis, OSHA, Washington, D.C., June 23, 1999.


OSHA, Final Economic Analysis of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C., December 12, 1997.

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