Description of the Services:
The NIOSH respirator certification and research program serves an estimated 5 million respirator wearers who are employed at approximately 1.3 million establishments. This program must assure, as best as is reasonably possible, that users are provided with correct and needed products and information so that they can be properly protected when using respirators. However, there is little reliable information available pertaining to actual respirator use and respirator programs in U.S. industries. The NIOSH respirator certification program operates under the assumption that all respirator users are using respirators in a complete respirator program. On the other hand, sources such as respirator manufacturers, state that users often wear respirators with little training and without the benefit of a respirator program. As a result, there is a pressing need to gather accurate and up-to-date surveillance information regarding respirator use in the workplace so that the NIOSH respirator certification and research program can assure that workers have needed products and are properly informed and protected. Also, the findings from this agreement will benefit workers by providing researchers with information to develop educational interventions for specific populations to improve respirator use in the workplace.
To gather this surveillance information, NIOSH has elected to enter into an Interagency Agreement (IA) with BLS because they are uniquely recognized as an unbiased, reliable, and objective source of surveillance information. Furthermore, while NIOSH has technical expertise in the area of respiratory protection, it does not have the established contacts and infrastructure in place for conducting such a survey as BLS.
This interagency agreement provides that BLS, in collaboration with NIOSH, will collect, analyze, and disseminate information regarding actual use of respirators and respirator programs (e.g., extent of written programs, expertise of program administrators, types of fit testing, types of respirators, chemical agents associated with respirator wearing) in a representative sample of all of U.S. industry in the 50 states.