Respirators 101

26 September 2019

Job sites can be dusty, dirty and dangerous, and- depending on the atmosphere-deadly. So what can you do to ensure you’re providing the safest possible environment for your employees and meeting OSHA standards?

Why are respirators important?

Respirators protect the wearer from oxygen deficiency, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists and particulates that can lead to respiratory illnesses, as well as cancer, lung impairment and death.  

Did you catch that?

This is serious business. A respirator is what stands between your employees and the potential of a chronic illness, or worse. Increased breathing rates, accelerated heartbeat, and impaired thinking or coordination occur more quickly in an oxygen-deficient or other hazardous atmosphere. Even a momentary loss of coordination can be devastating if it occurs while a worker is performing a potentially dangerous activity such as climbing a ladder. Considering how vital a respirator can be to job safety, it makes absolute sense that OSHA requires a respirator program that includes a written program, medical exam, with annual training and fit test. 

What is a fit test?

A “fit test” tests the seal between the respirator’s facepiece and your face. It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to complete and is performed at least annually. After passing a fit test with a respirator, you must use the exact same make, model, style, and size respirator on the job.All respirators that rely on a mask-to-face seal need to be annually checked with either qualitative or quantitative methods to determine whether the mask provides an acceptable fit to a wearer. 

Written program

The requirement for a respirator program to be in writing entails a great deal of pre-planning of the implementation steps for the program. These steps include selection, medical fitness, maintenance, training, fit testing, use, program evaluation, etc. This pre-planning is by design and intended to ensure the respirator wearer is safely using the proper respirator. The program evaluation facet allows for continuous improvements or changes to be made, as necessary, to maintain a protective program.

You can find more information about respirator safety and requirements by visiting the OSHA website.

Need help with fit testing or a written program? We want to make it easy for you. Contact us with any questions or requests.