Respiratory protection is required for any worker dealing with toxic substances. Having a well-fitted respirator is essential for construction and industrial work to protect the respiratory system of workers, this is not something that should be taken lightly. The best way to protect your respiratory system is to wear a respirator in hazardous environments.
Everyone needs to take safety precautions at all times in the workplace, but as a person who works with dangerous substances, it is especially important. Respiratory protection is required to handle these substances.
Respiratory protection is a health and safety requirement for many jobs in the workplace. When you are dealing with hazardous substances, you need to take extra precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of your coworkers. This article will tell you what you need to know about respiratory protection.
What is Respiratory Protection for Industrial Use?
A respirator is any device or equipment which covers or filters the nose and mouth of a person in the form of a mask or helmet. It helps prevent inhalation of solid or liquid particles and gases through the user's face, nose, mouth, and lungs. This equipment is designed to filter out potentially harmful substances such as dust particles, smoke fumes, and airborne bacteria so that you don't breathe them in. The use of Respiratory Protection is necessary to protect ourselves from harmful chemicals, dangerous gases, and infectious diseases.
What does Respiratory Protection do?
Respirators help us protect ourselves from harmful airborne particles when used correctly. These harmful particles include airborne diseases, dangerous gasses, and harmful particulates. Breathing in these substances can cause irreversible damage to the respiratory system.
Types of Respiratory Protection
If you have any respiratory protection concerns or if you need to purchase a respirator, keep reading!
There are many different types of respiratory equipment for use in the workplace. This includes the face net, dust mask, hood, or helmet that should be worn when dealing with hazardous substances. Respiratory protection should fit properly to ensure it provides adequate protection against airborne contaminants. When using respirators over an extended period, it is important to check the respirator for damage that could allow harmful particulates to penetrate the respiratory system. When respirators are not being used, they should be taken off and stored in a proper location.
It is essential that employers provide their workers with respiratory equipment. This equipment must be tested in an appropriate manner to meet the needs of the worker. Air quality, depth of work, and duration of work are all factors to consider when choosing what type of respirator is right for you. Your employer may require a fit test to ensure that the correct size respirator is being worn.
- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA): these devices are normally used in the mining industry, and they are similar to those that are used by firefighters. They provide air to the user that is breathed in through a facepiece and out of a one-way valve attached to the facepiece or hood. The entire self-contained breathing apparatus can be equipped with special features such as optical sight, flashing lights, or even an intercom system. This type of equipment is useful for emergency situations where there is little time to remove respirators but provides only limited protection against certain contaminants.
- Interim Respirators
Interim respirators are used on an employee-by-employee basis and are meant to be used for short periods of time. These types of respirators allow for a limited amount of chemical exposure but must not be worn for more than 30 minutes at a time. Interim type equipment also has one-way valves that prevent the user from inhaling the contaminant being filtered from breathable air by the respirator; therefore, they can lead to difficulties in getting sufficient oxygen. The manufacturer's specifications should be followed to ensure that these types of respirators give an acceptable level of protection. Interim respirators should be removed or replaced after every use.
- Particulate Respirators
Particulate respirators are chemical-resistant and designed to provide protection against chemicals, dust, or mist. These types of respirators can filter the contaminants from the air, so an employee does not inhale them. They are normally used with positive pressure systems that provide clean breathing air to the wearer. Positive pressure masks do not allow fresh air to enter through a valve but instead use simple or active particulate filters that filter contaminants from the outside air. This type of equipment is also commonly used in the construction and mining industries.
- Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR)
Power air-purifying respirators (PAPR) are air-purifying respirator that uses a battery or an external power source to circulate breathing air. This type of equipment has a fan that is attached to a filter, which circulates and filters the clean air. PAPRs can be used in emergencies when there is no time to use other types of respirators. They provide protection against many types of harmful chemicals, but they are typically used by people working in foundries or soldering operations and do not protect against oil vapors or gases.
- Air-Supplied Respirators
Air-supplied respirators are air-purifying respirator type that uses air supplied to the user by a compressed air tank. This type of equipment is used in rough work environments where contaminants would otherwise be inhaled through an open-air system. It is also often used on oil and gas drilling platforms, offshore platforms, and hazardous areas. The compressed air tank supplies the clean breathing air to the user and ensures it is always available; however, it can lead to difficulties while working in close proximity to others who may be wearing similar equipment or if there are sudden movements.
- Air-purifying respirators (APR)
Air-purifying respirators are designed to protect the wearer from airborne contaminants. Some air-purifying respirators provide a tight seal around the canister, but others do not, as these are used for intermittent use. These types of respirators also come in a cartridge or filter type, usually worn around the user's neck or held in their hands. They cost less than other types of respiratory equipment and tend to be quite lightweight; therefore, they can be used to protect against many harmful gases and vapors. However, these may not be appropriate for all workers or work environments.
All respirators must be chosen in conjunction with the type of work being performed, the user's level of training, and the need for personal protective equipment. It is important to choose a respirator that will provide enough protection for the types of contaminants you may be exposed to. This can be done by understanding exactly what is required for each type of environment in which you may need to work.
Equipment must be properly inspected before being worn and disinfected or serviced every two hours while they are being worn. They must be disposed of when they no longer meet the conditions for which they were designed.
It is important to note that many workplaces have areas designated "controlled environments." When working in these environments if a problem is noticed with your respirator, you must immediately let your supervisor know.
Difference Between Full and Half-face Respirators and Emergency Respirators
One of the most important considerations when working in a hazardous environment is the type of protection you will use. Respiratory protection for industrial use generally falls into two categories: full-face and half-face. These distinctions will help clarify what to choose for different applications:
- Full-Face Respirators
The most common type of facepiece used with a full-face respirator is designed with an attached hood that covers both your nose and mouth with a continuous filter cover at the front. Respirators for this type of protection are typically only available in one size and are commonly called "N-95" masks. N-95 is an acronym for the three different types of filters used in the mask:
While choosing a full-face mask may be tempting because it appears like the most effective protection, there are some disadvantages to using full-face masks over half-face respirators.
First, full-face respirators restrict your vision. This means you will not be able to see where you're going and what you're doing during a hazardous situation. Half-face masks, however, will allow you to see while still protecting your respiratory system, leading to a more efficient work environment and increased safety when needed. Second, full-face respirators limit your ability to speak and hear others around you. Half-face respirators will allow you to communicate with others and will also not muffle your hearing as much. Third, full-face respirators require a lot more maintenance than half-face respirators.
- Half-Face Respirators
The type of respiratory protection most commonly used by firefighters is the half-face respirator mask. Typically, they are available in both disposable and reusable models. Half face masks are easy to use, convenient, and provide effective respiratory protection in the environments where they are needed most: emergency situations, firefighting, construction sites, or hazardous industry operations such as chemical manufacturing or welding.
Half face respirators are available in many different configurations, but all have the same basic components:
- A soft rubber cushion that seals against your face.
- A hard outer shell to protect the inner components from damage.
- A replaceable filter that lines the inside of the outer shell.
The filter will either be a wet-style filter (commonly used by firefighters) or a dry-style filter (typically used by welders). Some masks also have replaceable cartridges to help clean the air before being filtered through the single-layer stage. Half face respirators can be purchased with different filters for different applications or as an upgrade to existing reusable respirators.
- Emergency Respirators
A respirator is a device that inhibits breathing and mixes ambient air with breathing air, allowing an individual to breathe. Respirators are designed to be worn by people who are at risk of inhaling toxic or harmful gases, vapors, mists, or particulates. They can be used in the workplace, during firefighting activities, and in natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. When used properly, they are capable of filtering out particulate matter while simultaneously providing oxygen to the user. Some respirators provide protection from gases and vapors, as well as particulates. This type is called a combination respirator. Respirators can be used to protect the nose and mouth, the entire respiratory tract (e.g., face mask, full-face mask), or the workers' lungs (e.g., respirators with replaceable cartridges containing activated charcoal or other chemicals).
Facts to Know About Respiratory Protection and How to Use Them
It's important to remember that it is everyone's responsibility to protect themselves and others in the workplace. Many workers in the United States are exposed to hazardous conditions on a regular basis, it is critical to have appropriate respiratory protection readily available.
In most cases, the employer is responsible for providing respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and training workers in their use. It's important to note that employers can't rely on one piece of RPE being sufficient for every task – they should provide a variety of adequate RPE and train their workers accordingly. This way, they'll be prepared in case a situation arises where more than one type of respirator is needed.
Most employers will want to provide their workers with the latest version of "face masks" to use. Traditional dust masks are not enough to protect against the extremely fine dust that can be found in many workplaces today. If you've been a part of an occupational health and safety committee or team, you'll know that many of these new dust masks are referred to as "filters."
It's important for employees across the board – from managers, supervisors, and workers – to be trained on the proper use of respirators: what they are, how they work, and how they fit properly. In addition, employees should be trained that the improper use of a respirator can have serious consequences.
Employees should also be taught how to recognize the signs and symptoms of overexposure and how to avoid them. Training should take place on an annual basis – it's a good idea for workers to get a refresher every year after actively using these devices for a number of years. Comprehensive training is often done through online resources like OHSOnline and Neohazard Training System or via local credible health and safety organizations or programs.
Here are some of the facts to know about respirators:
- Respirators are made for different levels of protection.
It's important for employers to communicate with their workers about the level of protection that each respirator offers. Labels can help with this – they'll have a number on them indicating the level of protection that is offered. For example, one will say "95," while another will say "99." The higher the number, the higher the level of respiratory protection that is offered. One thing you'll notice is that respirators are color-coded: green means 95, and blue means 99.
- Respirators should be replaced regularly to maintain their effectiveness and efficiency.
It's important for employers to properly educate their workers on when their respirators need to be replaced. Many times, workers aren't aware that they need to be replaced. Be sure that all workers are trained on this.
- Respirators require training and maintenance.
Before using and wearing respirators, it's important that workers understand the concept of respiratory resistance. If there's too little resistance, the amount of air being breathed in will be greater than that being exhaled. When this happens, the worker will begin to breathe many contaminants into their system. On the other hand, if there's too much respiratory resistance, it will result in higher breathing rates and increased breathing effort, which can lead to fatigue or hyperventilation.
- Respirators are only effective when used properly and consistently.
For a respirator to be effective and provide protection for a worker, it must be used correctly. This includes creating an effective seal around the face.
- Respirators can reduce a worker's performance and attitude on the job.
While respirator use is indeed important, it shouldn't negatively impact their ability to perform their job duties. Remember: workers should only be required to wear a respirator if it's necessary. It's important to keep in mind that some respirators can make it more difficult for workers to properly communicate with supervisors or colleagues.
- Respirators should be replaced in a timely manner.
It's important for employers to replace respirators that are damaged, expired, or not fully effective. Doing this helps to protect workers and avoid future issues. You'll also want them to keep track of which respirators they have so they can make sure they're replacing the ones that have expired or are no longer being used.
- Workers should be properly supported while using respirators.
A respirator is a work device, and it's important that employers provide workers with any additional support they may need in order to use the respirator correctly and efficiently. This means that they must provide adequate training, support, and supervision. Areas such as ventilation, climate control, and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be addressed in order to reduce fatigue, overheating, and discomfort.
- Employees should be trained on how to maintain the respirators properly.
It's important to train employees on how to properly maintain their respirators. This can help to prevent damage to respirators.
- Employees should be properly trained on when and how often to change their respirator filters.
If you're working in an area where you'll be using a respirator, it's important that you know how often the filters should be changed to ensure your protection. It's also important for workers to understand how to change the filters and where they can go to get new ones if needed.
This isn't a comprehensive list of all respirator use rules that exist – there are several rules and regulations that exist as far as proper respirator use is concerned. Many times when these safety items are purchased new, they come with instructions that all employees should read. But more importantly, they must be trained on how to use these items safely in order to avoid injury and illness.
To date, most respiratory protection studies have been on occupational populations, particularly those working in high-risk environments. As such, recommendations are based on what is known about the predominant exposures in such workplaces. It is important to note that certain recommendations may apply to the general population under certain circumstances.
Additionally, it should be noted that NIOSH does not recommend respirators as a substitute for engineering controls or other administrative controls for routine garden care activities or other non-occupational uses. Respirators must be used for only a limited time period and only when required by other (non-work) exposure requirements where prolonged exposure presents some danger to health.
When you're choosing a respirator, it is important to consider your training level and familiarity with your equipment and the type of work environment you are working in. Fit testing is an important step in ensuring the best possible protection for all types of hazards encountered during your job. If you have any questions or concerns about fit testing or respirator use, contact us at 866-537-2262 today.