Levitt-Safety Blog

Your quick CAN/CSA-Z94.4 respiratory protection cheat sheet

Michael DouglasNational Manager, Market SegmentsDecember 11, 2018

The latest edition of the respiratory protection standard was released in September 2018 and we’ve been getting lots of questions.

It’s important to be compliant with health and safety legislation and related standards. Not being compliant could result in getting fined or even jail time.

We created a cheat sheet to help you make sense of CAN/CSA Z94.4: Selection, Uses and Care of Respirators.


What are CAN/CSA Standards?

Before digging into the newest edition, let's look at why the Standard is important for respiratory protection. The Standard:

  • Keeps all Canadian workers who are subject to respiratory hazards safe.
  • Is reviewed and updated every five years.
  • Sets out the requirements for the selection, use and care of respirators as well as the administration of effective respiratory protection programs in the workplace.
  • Is based on testing requirements developed by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Any special criteria needed for firefighting applications are based on the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

What is new in CAN/CSA Z94.4-18:

CAN/CSA Z94.4-18 has made a number of additions from the 2011 version:

  • Supervisor's role: The Standard clarifies a supervisor's role in a respiratory protection program.
  • Clause 6: Clause 6 was re-ordered to help clarify how to use hazard and risk assessments as the basis for choosing appropriate respirators. The outline is helpful in cases where both air contaminants and bioaerosols are present, like in hospitals.
  • Training: Several classifications have been added for initial and routine training. Abiding by these training guidelines is essential for ensuring that your team is educated and compliant.
  • Facial hair: Additional guidance has been provided on the handling of respirator interference concerns such as facial hair, hairstyles, dentures, eyeglasses, contact lenses, hair garments or facial jewelry that could disrupt having a proper seal on your respirator. Remember, all workers must present themselves for fit testing as they would be when using the respirator in the workplace.
  • The health surveillance clause: This has been modified to clarify that a health assessment is needed prior to fit testing. There may be health reasons why a worker should not be subject to performing a fit test or using a respirator at all. In these cases, an employer may need to find alternate work for an employee where a respirator isn’t required. You can learn more about the importance of spirometry and how it can help assess your workers here.
  • Comfort clause: For the first time, the wearers’ comfort has been noted as a significant factor in the selection of respirators and fit testing. This is a noticeable addition, which speaks to the importance of compliance. Learn more about the clause.
  • Bioaerosol exposure: Scenarios of bioaerosol exposure situations have been significantly expanded to include examples of particular afflictions/hazards and the steps necessary to ensure that respiratory protection is effective. In addition, a new annex has been added to provide guidance on measurement and determining exposure limits for these hazards.
  • The persistence of bacteria: A new annex has been added to provide information on the persistence of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other pathogens on surfaces and in the air.
  • Accommodating special needs: A new annex has been added to provide guidance on accommodation for individuals with special needs.
  • Fit testing: A new annex has been added to lend further guidance on the records required to be maintained for both qualitative and quantitative fit testing. This provides additional information on what a formal record could look like along with all of the information that should be included within it.

Why this update matters to you:

The update to this Standard helps improve the safety of Canadian workplaces. Equipping your staff with the best respiratory protection contributes to improving workplace culture. It also protects their health today and for the future.

There are some hefty fines that go along with not providing your employees with a safe work environment.

Want to learn more?

Ensuring that your workers are safe, comfortable and compliant means peace of mind for you and your business.

If you want more information to improve your respiratory protection, be sure to take advantage of our free Essential Respiratory Protection Guide.

This Guide covers everything you need to know to keep your workers safe, compliant and comfortable while using respiratory protection on the job.

Ultimate respiratory guide


If you have any questions on the new Standard or respiratory protection in general, you can reach out to us today.

We’re here to help you evaluate your workplace and recommend the best protection for your unique needs.