Respiratory protection is important to consider for facilities where contaminated or oxygen deficient air is present, in the form of dusts, fogs, fumes, gases and smokes. Contaminants, especially those from industrial products and chemicals, can cause irritation and damage to lungs.
According to OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, employers are required to supply their employees with respirators when the conditions mentioned above are met and engineering controls are not practical. A written respiratory protection program would need to be developed and implemented when respirators are in use in a workplace.
An annual respiratory protection training program is required and should provide employees information on how to select, use, care for, and maintain a respirator. Additionally, the program will detail when and where respirators are required in the facility, the potential hazards of using a respirator, and signs and symptoms of overexposure to the contaminants that are present.
Overexposure to air containments can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, lung diseases, and cardiovascular conditions. To determine if respiratory protection is needed at a facility, air monitoring tests should be conducted. These tests measure the concentration of chemicals or respirable dusts that employees in varying job functions come into contact with on a daily basis. The results show which containment(s) is in the air and at what level, which provides guidance in determining the best respirator selection for the workplace.
If your facility is interested in evaluating if respiratory protection should be implemented in the workplace, please contact Suzanne Custons or Kaylin Mahoney to discuss this service.