Home » OSHA answers your respiratory protection questions
Yes. Each type of respirator can come in several varieties, each with its own set of cautions, limitations, and restrictions of use. Tight fitting respirators require fit testing to ensure an adequate fit to the face, and cannot be used with facial hair. Certain escape respirators use a nose clip and mouthpiece, which is clenched between your teeth, similar to a snorkel. Some respirators prevent the user from talking while others have speaking diaphragms or electronic communication devices. Every respirator contaminated with hazardous chemicals should be cleaned and decontaminated or disposed of properly.
All respirators require training in order to be properly used. Sometimes you can practice using your own respirator. Some escape respirators come in a package that must remain sealed until use, so you need to be trained using a special “practice” version. Training is extremely important in regard to the storage, maintenance, use, and disposal of the respirator. This information is provided by the supplier of the respirator (i.e., seller, distributor, or manufacturer). If you do not use a respirator correctly, it is very likely that it will not adequately protect you and may even hurt you.
If your mask does not make a tight seal all the way around your face when you inhale, you may breathe contaminated air that leaks around the edges of the face seal. Most respirators come in different styles and sizes, and fit different people differently because people's faces have different shapes. You also need training to know how to correctly put the mask on and wear it correctly. This information should be provided by the supplier of the respirator.
The only way to tell if a tight-fitting respirator fits you properly, and is capable of protecting you, is to fit test the respirator. Fit testing can be accomplished a number of different ways and should be done by a health and safety professional before workers wear a respirator in a hazardous environment. Respirators must be checked for proper fit each time they are donned to ensure they provide adequate protection.
Among the articles in the November 2020 issue of ISHN Magazine, we discuss what smart factory really means, delve into the perils of water damage, learn how to prevent eye injuries, and take a deep dive into silicosis dangers when working with quartz.