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Measuring Respirator Use in the Workplace
certification label.”6 It was envisioned that the findings of the survey would permit direction and evaluation of efforts to protect employees, by providing researchers with information to develop educational interventions for specific populations to improve respirator use in the workplace.7 Those agreements were carried forward into the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance documentation submitted to OMB by BLS.
The process of development of the questionnaire was iterative and involved both agencies. As in most survey development projects, the final design was the product of many compromises, not the least of which was the trade-off between cost and quality. BLS also had the benefit of ongoing advice during the development phase from program panels of the Labor Research Advisory Council (LRAC) and the Business Research Advisory Council. These panels meet regularly to review programs and make recommendations for program changes and improvements. Both panels included the SRUP in their purview in 2000 and 2001.
The LRAC’s Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Statistics was particularly helpful in the evolution of the survey. In its meeting on December 12, 2000, the LRAC committee critiqued the plans and the proposed questions (after the initial cognitive tests but prior to the field test), identified questions that could be eliminated, and prioritized questions that it would like added. Among the issues raised by the LRAC were (1) the prevalence of both “voluntary” and “routine” respirator use and how these two forms of use differ in participating establishments; (2) the prevalence of both “regular” and “emergency” respirator use and how these two forms of use differ in participating establishments; and (3) the duration of respirator use once employees have put them on (e.g., how long do employees wear respirators after putting them on and when do they take them off?).
The LRAC advised BLS of its priorities for information about respirator use in the workplace. LRAC priorities were (1) emergency response, (2) duration of use, (3) knowledge of who does the training, (4) determination of when the establishment last reviewed its program, and (5) knowledge of whether employees failed medical testing in the establishment’s respirator program.8,9
BLS reported back to the LRAC after the initial round of data collection in November 2001. A member of the LRAC again asked if it was possible to capture public-sector respirator use data. A public-sector frame can be constructed in about 30 states that gather public-sector data for the SOII, but not in the others. However, it was decided to continue to restrict this survey to the private sector.
In the end, the OMB survey approval request form, required for all federal data collections involving the private sector, represented that series of compromises based on trade-offs. The OMB survey plans were approved and the survey was sent to the field.
BLS, Supporting Statement, Information Collection Request.
Federal Register, October 27, 2000, p. 64459.
BLS, Labor Research Advisory Council, Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Statistics, minutes, December 12, 2000, p. 6.
In the prepublication version of this report the statement was made that BLS did not implement LRAC recommendations related to respirator use in the workplace. Subsequent information received from the sponsor proved otherwise. Therefore the statement “None of these made the final cut” and the corresponding footnote were deleted.