OSHA Air Monitoring Requirements

OSHA protects workers from health risks due to poor air quality.
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) creates air monitoring requirements to protect workers in the U.S. from health and safety risks due to air pollution at the workplace. OSHA holds employers responsible for monitoring air quality and keeping the workplace air within reasonable pollutant limits. Employers who fail to provide clean enough air or respiratory protection from pollutants can face citations and penalties from OSHA.

Contaminant Amounts

OSHA sets limits on the amount of dust and other contaminants that employers can allow in the air in workplaces. Three tables on the OSHA website show the amounts of different types of contaminants allowed over eight-hour work days. OSHA holds employers responsible for sampling the air quality and keeping the air particle levels below these maximum amounts.


Employers whose workplaces may contain air contaminants should monitor and document contaminant levels so they can prove that they are low enough for employee safety. Employees who believe their work environment may have high levels of air contaminants should also make an attempt to monitor contaminant levels with air samples and photographs documenting air pollution. Employees can notify the OSHA if they think their employer may not provide adequate ventilation or protective gear for the amount of air contaminants in the workplace. OSHA requires people monitoring workplace air to fill out Form OSHA-91A. If employers or employees send air samples to the Salt Lake Technical Center, which the OSHA recommends as an air testing center, a copy of Form OSHA-91A should accompany the sample.

Dust Sampling Requirements

OSHA air monitoring requirements tell people to use PVC filters when sampling air dust amounts. The maximum air flow rate should be 2 liters per minute and the maximum amount of sampling time is eight hours.

Sampling Records

Employers who sample the air quality in a workplace and find it inadequate should keep records of the sample test results for at least 30 years, as required by the OSHA. OSHA also requires employers to make air quality records available to employees upon request.

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