December 19, 2019

New Fact Sheet Series from NIOSH Focuses on PPE Themes, Trends

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory has published the first in a new series of fact sheets focused on the agency’s findings from post-market personal protective equipment tests, evaluations, and investigations. The series, “Personal Protective Equipment Conformity Assessment Studies and Evaluations Notes,” or “PPE CASE Notes,” is intended to inform respirator users about common themes or trends identified by NIOSH through processes related to agency-approved respirators. The first installment of PPE Case Notes focuses on self-contained breathing apparatus facepiece sizing issues within fire departments. After fire departments reported these issues as a nonconformance, NIOSH found that some departments only ordered a single-size facepiece for all their firefighters. Some fire departments also felt that they were not getting correct information on SCBA facepiece sizing from sales representatives. Another issue was that SCBA facepieces did not fit all firefighters because they did not form a tight seal against the users’ faces.

NIOSH’s new fact sheet explains that sizing issues are not a nonconformance and that the agency cannot intervene for corrective action in these types of cases. NIOSH reminds fire departments and other respirator users to evaluate sizing requirements prior to making a purchase to ensure that all users will have a facepiece that fits correctly. The agency urges respirator users and purchasers to consult local, state, and federal regulations regarding correct fit of firefighter PPE. Other guidelines such as NFPA 1852, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Open-Circuit SCBA, provide information on facepiece selection in terms of sizing and other considerations.

The new fact sheet is available to download from NIOSH’s website. NPPTL plans to publish additional fact sheets in the series in 2020.