What is NIOSH and Why is it Important for Respirator Fit Testing?

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7 June 2022 >> , , , , , ,

What is NIOSH and Why is it Important for Respirator Fit Testing?

What is NIOSH and Why is it Important for Respirator Fit Testing?

TAKEAWAY: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is one of several organizations integral to SureHire’s Respirator-Fit (Mask-Fit) Testing program. If you have employees using respirators and are engaging in respirator-fit testing (mask-fit testing), it is important to understand how organizations like NIOSH influence the equipment and testing services.



By Elly McGuinness

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All SureHire respirators carry NIOSH approval, yet that’s not the only safety aspect to consider. It is also imperative that RPE is the right fit for the employee, and that’s where Respirator-Fit Testing comes in. Book an Appointment or Request a Quote today!

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is one of several organizations integral to SureHire’s Respirator-Fit (Mask-Fit) Testing program. Alongside OSHA, CSA, and OHS, they create the framework for how SureHire delivers this service. This article is the first in a series decoding these acronyms and explaining the essential functions of each organization.

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is essential for employees in specific industries and job roles. Examples include construction, mining, oil and gas, fire services, petrochemical, pharmaceutical industries, etc. Companies use Respirator-Fit Testing to ensure the RPE fits properly and ultimately keeps employees safe.

Any employer using respirators and Respirator-Fit Testing should understand how various organizations influence this equipment and service. This article explores how NIOSH helps lay the foundation for Respirator-Fit testing.

What is NIOSH?

NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations to prevent work-related injury and illness.

NIOSH are leaders in the field of occupational health and safety. Ultimately, they aim to apply this knowledge to keep workers safe and healthy. This diverse organization has over 1,300 professionals across wide-ranging disciplines, including epidemiology, medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene, safety, psychology, chemistry, statistics, economics, and engineering.

What is the Difference Between NIOSH and OSHA?

Created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, both NIOSH and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) play vital roles in keeping employees safe and healthy. The critical difference is that OSHA is a regulatory agency, whereas NIOSH is not. NIOSH does not issue safety and health standards enforceable under U.S law. Rather, NIOSH has the authority to conduct research on new safety and health problems and develop recommendations for health and safety standards.

The Main Goals of NIOSH

NIOSH has seven overarching goals that reflex the significant health and safety issues in the U.S. workforce. They follow a strategic plan for achieving the following goals:

  1. Reduce occupational cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse reproductive outcomes, and other chronic diseases
  2. Reduce occupational hearing loss
  3. Reduce occupational immune, infectious, and dermal disease
  4. Reduce occupational musculoskeletal disorders
  5. Reduce occupational respiratory disease
  6. Improve workplace safety to reduce traumatic injuries
  7. Promote safe and healthy work design and well-being

What Role Does NIOSH Play in Respirator-Fit Testing?

NIOSH has exclusive authority for the testing and certification of respirators. The exception is specific mine emergency devices where NIOSH works with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). They also issue recommendations for respirator use.

Various government and industry partners have roles in establishing respirator standards. For example, the CDC sets performance criteria for respiratory devices. Certified respirators exceed these guidelines, confirming their safety.

Respirator-Fit Testing ensures RPE effectively minimizes the chance of employees inhaling dangerous substances and reduces the risk of respiratory illnesses. Having certified respirators that meet industry standards is one piece of the RPE safety puzzle, and Respirator-Fit Testing is the other. Both are essential from a worker’s health and a liability perspective.

How Does NIOSH Grant Certification to New Products?

NIOSH developed the Personal Protective Technology (PPT) program to test and certify new respirators before entering the market. All NIOSH-certified respirators meet construction, performance, and protection standards that keep RPE users safe.

The PPT program aligns with NIOSH’s seven strategic goals. It has several components, including the following:

  • Establishing certification testing criteria
  • Conducting product testing
  • Reviewing technical product specifications
  • Examining the manufacturer’s quality assurance program
  • Product and site audits
  • Evaluating product complaints
  • Research to improve testing and evaluation methods

Respirator certification is a premier function of the PPT program. Respirators are the only type of federally certified PPT, and NIOSH has certified more than 1,600 since 2001. Considered a business necessity, OSHA and MSHA require employers to purchase only NIOSH-certified respirators.

What is the Impact of the NIOSH PPT Program?

Assessing the impact of a public health initiative like the PPT program is challenging. Several factors are at play for illness and disease prevention, including individual and environmental aspects. A correctly fitting respirator is a crucial safety aspect, and this is separate from the PPT program.

Furthermore, respirators are only one type of PPT, and every industry and workplace has unique hazards and worker demands. So measuring the effectiveness of the PPT program has many considerations.

However, studies have highlighted the effectiveness of PPT in several areas. For example, a long-term study of firefighters showed no correlation between pulmonary function and firefighting exposure, and levels were similar to healthy, non-smoking adults.

Laboratory studies have highlighted the effectiveness of respirators. NIOSH is at the forefront of research, eventually aiming to develop a respirator that fits all face shapes and sizes without the need for Respirator-Fit Testing.

Respirator-Fit Testing and NIOSH | In Conclusion

NIOSH is one of several organizations integral to SureHire’s Respirator-Fit Testing service. They conduct occupational health and safety research and provide recommendations to keep workers safe and healthy.

NIOSH developed the PPT program, and one of its primary functions is respirator certification. OSHA and MSHA require employers to purchase only NIOSH-certified respirators because they meet construction, performance, and protection standards that keep RPE users safe. All SureHire respirators are NIOSH-approved.

SureHire’s Respirator-Fit Testing service is the other major puzzle piece that enhances respirator safety and helps keep employees healthy. Employees in industries with a high risk of lung health issues should invest in Respirator-Fit Testing to protect employees fully.

Contact SureHire for more information about lung health testing and monitoring services such as Respirator-Fit Testing, Spirometry Testing, Lead Exposure and Health Monitoring, and Lung Health Monitoring programs.

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Book Mask-fit Testing With SureHire USA!

SureHire USA respirators carry NIOSH approval, yet that’s not the only safety aspect to consider. It is also imperative that RPE is the right fit for the employee, and that’s where Respirator-Fit Testing comes in. Book an Appointment or Request a Quote today!


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2 Comments on “ What is NIOSH and Why is it Important for Respirator Fit Testing?

  1. 7 July 2022

    […] The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is one of several organizations integral to SureHire’s Respirator-Fit (Mask-Fit) Testing program. Alongside NIOSH, CSA, and OHS, they create the framework for how SureHire delivers this service. This article is the second in a series decoding these acronyms and explaining the essential functions of each organization. [Find out all about NIOSH in “What is NIOSH and Why is it Important for Respirator Fit Testing?”] […]

  2. 20 July 2022

    […] out all about NIOSH in “What is NIOSH and Why is it Important for Respirator Fit […]

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