To provide information on medical evaluation procedures for respirator use in private sector establishments.
In 2001, data on respirator use and practices were collected in a survey of private sector establishments.
Of establishments where respirators were required, 46% did not evaluate employees' medical fitness. Evaluations for fitness increased with establishment size, ranging from 35% in small establishments (1–10 workers) to 95% in large establishments (≥1000 workers). Questionnaire with a follow-up examination, as needed, was the most common method of evaluating medical fitness (48%).
Results suggest that about half of all private sector establishments where respirators are required do not comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for medical fitness evaluations. Improved awareness among employers and workers and identification of methods to increase medical evaluation practices, especially among smaller establishments, is needed.