Voluntary Use of Respirator
It's hard to imagine that at one point in time not too long ago, employees were not allowed to wear a respirator if they chose. Unless the funeral home had a respiratory protection program, workers really had no approved options regarding their desire to proactively protect themselves from chemicals associated with the embalming process or other bioaerosols. There was much opposition to this right when OSHA initially promulgated Appendix D to its Respiratory Protection Standard, 1910.134. However, over time, employers began to understand that this right made sense. While formaldehyde exposures to embalmers may be below the Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL), some workers simply feel more comfortable wearing a respirator nonetheless. Employers must ensure, however, that any employee who chooses to wear a respirator upon their own recognizance must be medically approved to do so and that the respirator is the proper type, has proper cartridges, and is worn properly.