Policy Statement

The City of Toronto is committed to providing and maintaining a healthy and safe working environment by observing the hierarchy of controls:  substitution or elimination of a product with one of a lesser toxicity, engineering controls, administrative practices and personal protective equipment.

Whenever work-related exposure to airborne contaminants (e.g. dusts, fumes, mists, bioaerosols, gases, vapours) cannot be controlled by means of elimination/substitution, engineering (e.g. ventilation) or work practice administration, or when engineering controls are being instituted, shutdown for repair/ maintenance or in event of an emergency, respiratory protective devices will be used for employee protection.   Issuance and use of respiratory protective devices shall be in keeping with requirements of a respiratory protection program.


This policy applies to all City employees who are required to wear a respirator to protect against airborne contaminants to which they may be exposed during the course of their work.  It also applies to employees that are provided respirators because they voluntarily choose to use a respirator for reasons of comfort or odour relief, although the workplace does not place them at risk of exposure beyond occupational exposure limits.


All City of Toronto Divisions with situations in which respiratory protective devices are used for protection against exposure to potentially hazardous environments, such as oxygen-deficiency or airborne contaminants (dusts, fumes, mists, gases, vapours, and bioaerosols) or for reasons of odour relief, comfort etc. will develop and implement, in consultation with users, a written Respiratory Protection Program.

The program will be in keeping with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its associated regulations, including O. Reg. 833 “Control of Exposure to Chemical and Biological Agents”, as well as current accepted industry standards such as the Canadian Standards Association – Z94.4-18 – Selection, Use and Care of Respirators. Program elements will include hazard assessment; respirator selection and issuance; cartridge change out schedules (if cartridges are used); fit testing; health surveillance; equipment cleaning, storage, inspection and maintenance; training and program evaluation.

Respirator selection appropriate for the task and work location will be based on hazard assessment. Only NIOSH approved respirators will be issued. Prior to issuance of a respirator, a hazard assessment shall be performed by a qualified person (or persons) to determine the respiratory hazards present and to assist in the selection of an appropriate respirator where required. The nature of the respirable hazard shall be considered, including but not limited to the physical state and concentration (estimated) of the contaminant, potential for oxygen deficient or immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) atmospheres, the presence of oil in the air (for particulates) and occupational exposure limits.  A Respirable Hazard Assessment Form (Appendix A) can be used to document the assessment.”

A tight-fitting respirator is to be issued only after a satisfactory fit has been verified by a qualitative or quantitative fit test.  Fit testing shall be performed by a qualified person. Tips for fit testers are attached as Appendix B). Fit testing also applies to voluntary uses of a tight-fitting respirator.  Fit-testing will be performed prior to issuance of a respirator and every two years thereafter for all users, and only when there are no medical conditions preventing the use of a respirator and no interferences with the respirator-face seal. Fit test results may be recorded using the appropriate Respirator Fit Test Record (Quantitative or Qualitative) (Appendix C and D, respectively).

A process must be established to verify an employee’s fitness to wear a respiratory protective device (i.e. verify employee is free of physiological or psychological conditions that may prevent using the form of respiratory protective device). This may be achieved either by:

  • Having all employees assessed by a health care professional prior to fit testing and respirator use to confirm whether they are medically fit to wear respirators, or;
  • Having employees complete a self declaration form prior to fit testing and respirator use (see samples in tool kit attached) in which they are asked to identify whether there are potential health issues that preclude them wearing a respirator. When there is doubt about the fitness or ability of the person to wear a respirator, the employee who is required to use respirators will seek review by a physician.

The CSA’s “Respirator User Screening Form” (Appendix E) or the City’s “Employee Respirator Fit Test Record (Quantitative or Qualitative)” enables this process to be documented.

When an employee is deemed by a physician to be unfit to wear a tight-fitting respirator, attempts will be made to look at appropriate alternative types of respirators that are not tight fitting. When an employee is deemed by a physician to be unfit to wear any type of respirator, the employee will be assigned tasks not requiring the use of a respirator.

Users of a tight-fitting respirator must be clean-shaven where the respirator-face piece seals to the skin when using the respirator. For employees who cannot be clean shaven for religious reasons and where the use of a respirator is an integral part of their work, attempts will be made to look at appropriate alternative types of respirators that are not tight fitting.

Prior to issuance of a respirator and at least every two years thereafter (unless a review has been conducted confirming that the employee remains qualified to wear a respirator), an employee must receive training on the use, limitations and care of the respirator, and be fit tested. All records of respirator fit-checks and training will be maintained by the division issuing the respirator.

Compressed breathing air and air compressors used for supplied-air respirators or self contained breathing apparatus shall comply with CSA Standard Z180.1-13. SCBA cylinders shall be inspected externally and internally by a qualified person in accordance with applicable standards and regulations including but not limited to CSA B339 and CSA B340; CGA C-6, C-6.1, or C-6.2, as applicable; applicable transport regulations; and the manufacturer’s instructions. SCBA cylinders shall be hydrostatically tested every five years. Other cylinders shall be hydrostatically tested at a frequency and in the manner described in CSA B339 and CSA B340.


Senior management of a division with situations (tasks or work areas) requiring respiratory protection will:

  • Designate a qualified person as the program administrator.
  • Ensure that tasks or work areas requiring use of respiratory protection has been assessed and documented, and respirator type required for the task or work area identified
  • Ensure that resources for employee training, fit-testing and respiratory protective equipment are made available.
  • Conduct review of the respiratory protection program on a routine basis

Supervision will:

  • Identify situations or work areas where respirators may be required and ensure an assessment of the hazard is conducted
  • Communicate areas or job tasks where respiratory protection is required based on the assessment, and provide the appropriate respiratory protective device to employees
  • Consult with appropriate staff, when necessary, in assisting with hazard assessments, respirator selection, medical clearance
  • Ensure that only employees who have been health screened, fit tested and trained are issued respirators.
  • Ensure that workers use only those respirators for which they have been qualified via fit testing
  • Not assign a tight-fitting respirator to an employee with facial hair that will interfere with the seal
  • Ensure respirators are cleaned, sanitized, inspected, maintained, repaired and stored in accordance with written instructions and manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Conduct periodic random inspections of work areas where respirators are worn to ensure that the correct respirators are being used and that they are being worn in accordance with instructions and training received and safe operating procedures.
  • In the case of tight-fitting face piece, ensure users maintain their required clean-shaven condition and don’t have objects or materials that will interfere with the seal or operation of the respirator.
  • Make available the necessary filters/cartridges and respirator models for which employees have been fit tested
  • Provide details of type of respirator selected and anticipated work condition to health care professional conducting medical assessment.
  • Notify program administrator of user’s concerns, changes in processes, equipment, or operating procedures.
  • Notify program administrator of investigation report that revealed that the use of a respirator may have prevented or contributed to an incident or injury.
  • Refer to the Use, Care and Limitations of Air-Purifying Respirators Safety Procedure (Appendix F) for detailed instructions

Program Administrator will:

  • Arrange and co-ordinate sessions for training and fit testing
  • Maintain list of activities and work areas determined by hazard assessment requiring the use of a respirator and the type of respirator required
  • Ensure that the respiratory protection program addresses health screening, fit testing and training of those who are to wear respirators.
  • Maintain documentation related to the fitness of respirator users to wear a respirator
  • Advise Management of any changes or gaps respecting program elements
  • Maintain records of training and fit testing of all respirator users including those employees who choose to wear a respirator
  • Ensure that a cartridge change out schedule is developed and implemented for areas where chemical cartridges are used

Respirator Users will:

  • Wear and use the appropriate fit-tested respirator in accordance with the instructions and training received
  • For tight-fitting face piece, maintain clean-shaven condition where the respirator contacts the face and refrain from having any object or material that would interfere with the seal or operation of the respirators.
  • Not wear a tight-fitting respirator unless they can do so by complying with the interference-free requirement
  • Check that the respirator is clean and in good operating condition.
  • Perform a negative and/or positive pressure user seal-check each time prior to entering area of concern
  • Remove from service a respirator that is defective and report it to supervisor.
  • Change out filters/cartridges as per change out schedule or training and report this information to supervision.
  • Report to supervisor any condition or change that may impact on their ability to use a respirator safely.
  • Advise their supervisors of any occupational health and safety issues or concerns.
  • Participate fully in all aspects of the respiratory protection program including fit testing and training before using a respirator.
  • Advise of any medical conditions that preclude use of a respirator
  • Refer to the Use, Care and Limitations of Air-Purifying Respirators Safety Procedure (Appendix F) for detailed instructions

Occupational Health, Safety and Workers’ Compensation Unit’s Occupational Hygiene staff will:

  • Provide technical advice and recommendations regarding assessments for respiratory hazards;
  • Assist supervisors in determining the type of respiratory protection required for the specific respiratory hazard(s);
  • Provide training and education where necessary and as requested
  • Provide tools for use in training on use, care, fit and storage of air purifying respirators
  • Fit test where necessary, assisting in developing a Fit Test Program or capability within a division to conduct Fit Testing;
  • Monitor regulation and industry standards regarding respiratory protection

Health and safety staff will:

  • Provide consultation to members of the JHSC as they prepare and recommend appropriate remedial actions or seek an occupational hygiene assessment.
  • Consult regarding the provision of training and development of safe work procedures.
  • Assist management or JHSC’s of divisions with hazard assessment

Joint Health and Safety Committees representing the work area requiring respiratory protection will:

  • Review the division/unit specific respiratory protection program on a routine basis, and make recommendations for change, if needed.

The Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee will:

  • Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of this policy

Endorsed by

Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee, September 2013

Approved by

City Manager, November 25, 2013

Revised and re-endorsed by OHSCC

December 4, 2019

Related Information

  • O. Reg. 833, Control of Exposure to Chemical and Biological Agents
  • CSA Z94.4-18, Selection, Use and Care of Respirators. Program
  • CSA Z180.1-13, Compressed Air Breathing Systems
  • CSA B339, B340, Design/manufacture/qualification & selection/use, of cylinders
  • CGA C_6, 6.1, 6.2, Compressed Gas Association Visual Inspection of Steel Cylinders
  • CSA B339, Cylinders, Spheres & Tubes for Transportation of Dangerous Goods
  • CSA B340, Selection & Use of Cylinders, Spheres & Tubes & Other Containers for Transportation of Dangerous Goods, Class 2


  • Appendix A: Respirable Hazard Assessment Form
  • Appendix B: Tips for fit testers
  • Appendix C&D: Respirator Fit Test Records (Quantitative or Qualitative)
  • Appendix E: CSA’s Respirator User Screening Form
  • Appendix F: Use, Care and Limitations of Air-Purifying Respirators Safety Procedure