WHAT IS RESPIRATOR CLEARANCE?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), when an employee is required by their employer to use a respirator at work, the employee must move through several steps to ensure proper protection and OSHA compliance.
The first step in the process for potential respirator users is being medically cleared by a health professional. This medical clearance process for respirator use is known in the safety industry as Respirator Clearance. Because this is an industry term, you may find that different providers of Respirator Clearance use the term to mean or include slightly different steps. Some providers may not even use the term Respirator Clearance specifically. No matter what it’s called or how its performed, the result will be the same: employees will be screened and provided with medical clearance to use a respirator while working.
As with any regulatory process, achieving compliance can be confusing for employers big and small. Read on if you’re looking to understand the basics of Respirator Clearance.
What is an MEQ and how does it relate to Respirator Clearance?
Most industries have their own set of jargon, and the safety industry is no exception. The acronym MEQ stands for Medical Evaluation Questionnaire. Although MEQ sounds like a term for a generic medical form that could be used for any purpose, in the safety industry it specifically refers to the medical history form used in the Respirator Clearance process. In fact, some providers may not use the term Respirator Clearance at all and may only refer to the medical clearance for respirator use as ‘the MEQ’.
OSHA provides a base version of the MEQ to assist employers and healthcare providers. Employers and healthcare providers are free to modify the questionnaire and/or process so long as it gathers, at minimum, the information that is on the OSHA-provided questionnaire.
Who needs Respirator Clearance?
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, any employee who is required by their employer to use a respirator at work must receive medical approval to do so. Thus, there are a wide variety of industries and job types that require Respirator Clearance, from healthcare to chemical manufacturing and everything in-between.
In addition to industries and job types that require respirator use, employers can also allow employees to use their own respirators at work. This type of scenario occurs when the work environment does not mandate respirator use but the employee still elects to use a respirator for peace of mind or comfort. This type of elective use is referred to as voluntary use in the industry, and although a respirator fit test is not required, the employee must still receive Respirator Clearance for all respirators except filtering facepiece.
How can employers provide Respirator Clearance for employees?
There are many ways for an employer to provide Respirator Clearance for their workforce. Large employers may have their own occupational health department who will provide Respirator Clearance as well as many other services. But the two most common Respirator Clearance methods are sending employees to an external occupational health clinic or faxing the MEQ to a healthcare provider who will evaluate the MEQ to provide Respirator Clearance at a later time.
As you can imagine, the two options above involve quite a bit of wasted time as employees will either be waiting in a clinic or waiting for a fax. This is why a third option, Online Respirator Clearance, has become the industry standard over the last decade.
What are the advantages of online Respirator Clearance with P3 Safety Solutions?
P3 Safety Solutions Respirator Clearance service is more efficient than the traditional fax or in-person clinic methods. For example, with P3 Safety Solutions online Respirator Clearance service, employees complete the MEQ and receive Respirator Clearance without ever leaving work. Any follow-up required for complicated health histories is handled via phone interview with a P3 Safety Solutions provider.
P3 Safety Solutions online Respirator Clearance is the most efficient and cost-effective method for obtaining Respirator Clearance.
HIPAA-Compliant MEQ Storage: When an employee fills out and submits the MEQ on P3 Safety Solutions website, the MEQ is automatically stored in a HIPAA-compliant manner. This storage is included in the cost of Respirator Clearance.
Instant Evaluation: Because P3 Safety Solutions questionnaire is a complex medical algorithm, most employees are cleared the instant they submit their MEQ.
Organizational Transparency: P3 Safety Solutions can provide the client management with a dashboard that allows on-demand access to results and metrics across the entire account.