AIHA Weighs in on Attempts to Block OSHA Fit Testing for Respirators

A letter submitted on July 17 by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) urges House leaders to ignore attempts made to add a rider to the House FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill regarding OSHA's enforcement of respiratory protection requirements for tuberculosis.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee defeated an amendment that would have blocked a rule requiring annual testing of respirators that protect against tuberculosis. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., tried to reinstate the amendment to eliminate the fit testing requirement.

In a letter to Congress, AIHA President Donald Hart says the association supports OSHA in its contention that annual respirator fit testing is “an appropriate standard to ensure that respirators continue to provide protection for employees.

“It’s important that OSHA is not restricted in doing its mission of protecting workers’ health and safety,” Hart said. “Allowing enforcement of the General Industry Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) will support this mission.”

Back in December 2003, OSHA withdrew the proposed tuberculosis (TB) rule, revoked the respiratory protection interim rule used to enforce the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) TB guidelines and simultaneously applied the General Industry Respiratory Protection Standard (or occupational exposure to tuberculosis.

In a statement, AIHA said that it opposes any attempt to stop OSHA from enforcing annual fit testing for tuberculosis “because it would put workers at an unnecessary risk of contracting tuberculosis, which is of heightened concern given the resurgence of this disease.”

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