Respirators are an important aspect of safety and health protection in the workplace. Respiratory hazards in the workplace should be controlled whenever possible using engineering, work practice, or administrative controls. However, if these controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employees may need to utilize respiratory protection.
Respiratory hazards include:
- Harmful dusts (silica, asbestos, heavy metals etc.)
- Gases and vapors (chemical exposure)
- Air-purifying respirators (APR) clean the air being breathed using filter, cartridges, or canisters. APRs include half-face, full-face, N95, and PAPR respirators.
Steps in selecting a proper respirator:
- First, we must have the workplace assessed to determine the level and type of contaminant(s) present
- All employees must then be medically cleared, trained and respirator fit-tested prior to respirator use
Caring for respirator:
- Inspection should be done prior to each use
- Check for missing or worn parts
- The proper cartridge or filter must be selected based on the hazard present
- Respirator users must know the limitations of their respirator and stay clean-shaven to ensure a proper fit and seal
- Workers should not share respirators and should only use the respirator they have been fitted for
- Respirators must be cleaned and stored properly after each use