How to Choose The Right Respiratory Program Administrator

If you work in an industry where toxic substances and insufficient oxygen levels are common, then Cal/OSHA requires you to implement a respiratory protection program. In order to ensure that your employees are as safe as possible while on the job site, it is imperative that you choose the right respiratory program administrator.

What Does a Respiratory Program Administrator Do?

The respiratory program administrator implements and monitors respiratory safety programs. The program administrator is responsible for:

  • Evaluating the respiratory needs of the workplace
  • Creating, maintaining, and auditing written operating procedures
  • Selecting appropriate respirators
  • Teaching employees how to use respirators properly
  • Fit testing
  • Medical evaluations
  • Surveillance of specified work areas
  • Upholding air quality standards

Essentially, the program administrator must oversee everything that pertains to respiratory safety in the workplace. This is certainly a tall order for one person to fill, so it’s important that the selection process is not taken lightly.

4 Essential Qualities of a Good Program Administrator

So what makes for a good program administrator? While character and experience is key, there are really 4 qualities that good program administrators possess:

1. They Must Know Respirators

First and foremost, the program administrator must understand respirators inside and out. They must know how they work, and they must be able to identify when and why they are not working. Effective program administrators stay up-to-date with the most current respirators; therefore, make sure that all candidates have a passion for the devices that they administer.  

2. They Should Know Your Industry

In order to devise an effective respiratory safety plan, complete with standard procedures, templates, and checklists, the program administrator should have an in-depth understanding of the environment that employees need protection from. Theory is good, but hands-on experience is always better; If you work an architectural lighting firm, then the program administrator should be well-versed in standard manufacturing practices. Knowing how each process is performed will allow the administrator to improve existing protocols.

3. They Must Be Extremely Organized

Since the program administrator is responsible for outlining and implementing your respiratory safety plan, the person you choose should be meticulous by nature. This person should be able to show you how they keep records and conduct safety audits.

Consider whether they will be maintaining written or digital files. If they are paper-focused, then what kind of labeling structure will they follow? If they will be walking around with a laptop all day, then will they be using Microsoft’s suite, or something else?  

In addition, make sure to read the reports that any potential candidates propose. When reviewing these documents, ask yourself if they are easy for anyone to understand.

4. They Must Have Excellent Written & Verbal Communication Skills

Remember that the program administrator is responsible for writing reports. These reports have to be written in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.

Most people put “strong communication skills” on resumes and job postings out of habit, but the only way to know if a person can truly communicate effectively and professionally is to test them.

That’s right: during their second interview, ask them to complete a writing test. Give them a topic that relates to your industry, and asks them to write 400 words. This test will show you whether they are familiar with your industry and whether they can actually write.

Should The Respiratory Program Administrator Be An Internal Or Outside Hire?

At this point, it is natural to wonder whether the program administrator should be an internal hire or an outside hire. If your company already has a safety manager, it may be tempting to consider that person. After all, they may be familiar with Cal/OSHA’s safety standards.

On the other hand, an outside hire may be able to look at things from an unbiased angle, or they may possess certain industry-specific qualities that your current safety manager lacks.  

Both an internal and an outside hire can work, but to make the best decision, you should entertain both options: give your current employees fair interviews, but post the opening to outsiders too. This will allow you to compare the credentials of each candidate type in the moment.

If you have an existing respiratory safety program in place, Socal First Aid can help you determine if your fit testing methods are in compliance with Cal/OSHA’s standards. Strive for the best by preparing for the worst.

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