Respiratory Protection

What is respiratory protection?


Respiratory protection is a general term used to describe an apparatus that is worn over the mouth and nose, or the entire face or head to prevent inhalation of hazardous material. There are two major classes of respirator; air-purifying respirators which filter or remove contaminants from the air you breathe; and atmosphere-supplying respirators which provide clean, breathable air from an uncontaminated source. Generally, atmosphere-supplying respirators are used in more hazardous situations.

When should you use a respirator?

1. Whenever engineering and work practice control measures are not adequate to prevent atmospheric contamination of breathable air
2. If your work area has the potential for being or becoming an oxygen deficient atmosphere
3. If there are harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, fumes, gases, vapors, or sprays present in the area

What are some best practices for respirator use, care and maintenance?


1. Only use a respirator after you have been trained, fit tested and approved by a local physician or licensed health care professional, through a medical evaluation process
2. Always select a respirator that is adequate for the type of atmosphere you will be working in
3. Always inspect and test respirators before and after each use
4. Always mark or tag defective respirators if you are sending them away to be repaired
5. Always destroy defective respirators which you are going to discard to prevent use by another employee who may overlook defects, markings, or tags
6. Always use respirators and their related equipment as per the manufacturer’s recommendations
7. Never modify respirators unless permitted in the manufacturer instructions
8. Always store respirators and related equipment in a clean, shaded area with moderate temperatures to prevent defects from occurring
9. Always ensure that you are familiar with the respiratory protection program for the site and know who the respiratory protection program administrator is
10. Obey all surveillance and monitoring procedures set forth in the respiratory protection program for the site
11. If you suspect you are exposed to a hazardous atmosphere, immediately leave the area
12. Report any suspected medical problems you experience to your supervisor immediately or call 911 if you have an emergency

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