Particulate respirators allow you to safely work in environments where the air quality is compromised due to an excess or threat of airborne debris. Respirators are used in a wide range of applications that span beyond the industrial and medical fields with each industry requiring a different level of protection.
How Respirators Work
Respirators work by pressing a multi-layered filtering material over the mouth and nose to combat the inhalation of dangerous particulates. The respirator material is given a slight electrostatic charge to help particulates cling to the respirator and not pass through the filters. This charge allows the respirator to be thin enough for breathable air to be able to pass through while simultaneously filtering out potentially harmful debris.
Here are some of the most important tips for avoiding contamination when using a respirator mask.
Choose the correct respirator – There are respirators for every kind of application. It’s important to understand the specific environment you will be working in to determine the correct respirator for the job and to have a variety sizes to accommodate all workers. Make sure to only use OSHA-approved respirators certified by the NIOSH. While a Respirator Fit Test must be performed once a year, a User Seal Test should be performed each time a respirator is used.
Change out respirators frequently – A working particulate respirator will catch the vast majority of debris when used properly. It is important to replace your respirator using the manufacturer’s guidelines combined with your own experience and judgment. Disposable respirators must be replaced if they become damaged, begin to cause breathing trouble during use, or reach the end of their service life.
Properly maintain respirator equipment – Using a damaged or improperly maintained respirator system can cause serious harm to the user. That’s why all respirators must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. It’s important to implement a respirator maintenance schedule to ensure all equipment is functioning properly and users face the lowest risk of contamination possible.
Check out this Respirator Safety video from the US Department of Labor and learn how to:
- Properly put on (donning) and take off (doffing) a respirator
- Perform a User Seal Test
There are many types of respirators available and the respirator you choose should be based on the particular hazardous debris to which you will be exposed. If a job requires the use of a respirator, employers must provide all respirator equipment to employees and implement a monitoring system for all use and maintenance.
About the Author: Sara Glove is a leading supplier of OSHA approved PPE, providing companies, employers and individuals with quality work safety equipment for over 40 years.