Use of respirators in the workplace

March 21, 2002

Respirators had been used by employees in about 10 percent of the private industry workplaces surveyed in late 2001.

Percent of establishments that use respirators by selected type of use, 2001
[Chart data—TXT]

The term respirator refers to any device designed to provide the wearer with respiratory protection against inhalation of a potentially hazardous atmosphere. Dust masks, full-facepiece respirators, and self-contained breathing apparatuses (where air or oxygen is carried in a tank on the worker's back) are examples of respirators.

In nearly half of the 619,400 establishments where respirators were used, they were used by employees on a voluntary basis only, and, in about 12 percent, they were used only when required because of emergencies.

These data are from a special survey conducted by the BLS Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities Program for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Find more information on the use of respirators in workplaces in news release USDL 02-141, "Respirator Use and Practices" (TXT) (PDF).

Definitions of voluntary and required respirator use:


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Use of respirators in the workplace on the Internet at (visited September 30, 2016).


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