OSHA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Dec. 26 Federal Register for a new fit-testing protocol — the Abbreviated Bitrex Qualitative Fit-Testing (ABQLFT) protocol — under Appendix A of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard.

The proposed rule will add a new fit-test method that has a shorter exercise duration than current methods, according to OSHA chief Edwin G. Foulke, Jr.

The proposed rule would add the ABQLFT as an alternative to the four existing OSHA-approved qualitative fit-test protocols. The ABQLFT protocol currently listed in the existing OSHA-approved Bitrex fit-test protocol in the Respiratory Protection standard would shorten the duration for each of the seven fit-test exercises from one minute to 15 seconds.

The new method, which would apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment and the construction industry, will give employers additional flexibility in selecting procedures for conducting fit-testing, said Foulke.

The agency is accepting public comments until Feb. 25, 2008. Interested parties may submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov, the federal eRulemaking Portal. See the Federal Register notice for more information on submitting comments.