The fifth edition of CAN/CSA-Z94.4 came out in September and I’ve been getting questions about what exactly these changes mean for workplace respiratory programs. Let’s face it, this topic isn’t sexy but it is important. At the end of the day, if your company isn’t compliant with health and safety legislation and related standards, it’s more than a slap on the wrist; it could mean getting fined or even jail time.
Reading the hundreds of pages in these standards can be draining, so let us make it easier for you. Here’s my take on what’s new and important to know about CAN/CSA Z94.4-18.
New to CAN/CSA Standards?
Before digging into the newest edition for respiratory protection, here’s some high-level information on the importance of the standard:
- Its purpose is to keep all Canadian workers who are subject to respiratory hazards safe.
- It is reviewed and potentially updated every five years.
- This standard 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.
- The Standard is based on testing requirements developed by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Any special criteria needed for firefighting applications is based on the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
CAN/CSA Z94.4-18 has made a number of additions from the 2011 version:
- Clarification has been made regarding what a supervisor’s role is in a respiratory protection program.
- Clause 6 has been re-ordered to help clarify how hazard and risk assessments are to be used as the basis for selecting appropriate respirators – especially in cases where both air contaminants and bioaerosols are present (such as in hospitals).
- 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.
- Additional guidance has been provided on the handling of respirator interference concerns such as facial hair, hair styles, 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 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 preforming 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.
- For the first time, the wearers’ comfort has been noted as a significant factor in the selection of respirators and fit testing. This addition to the Standard is huge; to see that national regulations are finally bringing workers’ comfort into account speaks volumes on the importance of compliance. A happy worker is a comfortable and safe one.
- 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.
- 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.
- A new annex has been added to provide guidance on accommodation for individuals with special needs.
- Lastly, 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 You Need to Care
This Standard sets out to help improve the safety of Canadian workplaces. Not only does keeping your workers equipped in the best respiratory protection for their job help contribute to a positive safety culture, but it keeps their health protected both today and for the future. And, if that’s not enough to persuade you, there can be some hefty fines that go along with not providing your employees with a safe work environment.
Ensuring that your workers are safe, comfortable and compliant means peace of mind for you and your business.
Honeywell Respiratory Products
Levitt-Safety and Honeywell have been partners in respiratory protection for years, and we’re proud to represent their brand. They offer a great range of products for every level of respiratory protection you need. To learn more about their product offering, click here.
If you’re still looking for more information on how you can improve your respiratory protection, be sure to take advantage of our free Essential Respiratory Protection Guide. This resource covers everything you need to know to keep your workers safe, compliant and comfortable while using respiratory protection on the job.
If you have any questions on CAN/CSA Z94.4-18, or respiratory protection in general, be sure to reach out to us today. We’re glad to help you evaluate your workplace and recommend the best protection for your unique needs.