September 8, 2022

NIOSH: Approved Respirators Cannot Be Altered to Improve Fit

Concerns regarding statements in the user instructions for several filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) manufactured by NIOSH approval holders prompted the agency to publish a notice stressing that agency-approved respirators cannot be altered to improve fit. According to the notice, NIOSH has identified some statements instructing users to modify FFRs—for example, by tying knots in the headbands to create a tighter fit. The agency cautions users that, in limited instances, some FFRs with instructions containing similar statements were distributed when NIOSH failed to identify the concern before issuing approvals. NIOSH says that it is notifying approval holders to correct their user instructions as issues are identified.

NIOSH’s notice reminds those who are required to use respiratory protection in occupational settings that if a user cannot achieve a proper fit, the respirator configuration should not be modified in any way. Instead, another product should be selected for use, the agency says.

“All NIOSH-approved respirators and their components should not be modified,” the notice stresses. “Modifications will result in those respirators no longer meeting NIOSH approval requirements and may lead to a reduction or loss of expected protection for the user.”

Additional details can be found on the website of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.