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Choosing respirators for your business


You must choose respirators for your business.
You may or may not have experience in this area.This article will give you the basics to determine what you need and what your options are to cover those needs.The most important requirement is to protect your employees and yet keep costs at a minimum.

Let's begin with the basics.
Respirators are devices that protect workers from inhaling harmful substances. These substances can be in the form of airborne vapors, gases, dust, fogs, fumes, mists, smokes, or sprays. Some respirators also ensure that workers do not breathe air that contains dangerously low levels of oxygen. There are two major types of respirators:

  1. Air-purifying respirators, which remove contaminants from the air.

  2. Atmosphere-supplying respirators, which provide clean air from an uncontaminated source. Respirators can provide protection from respiratory hazards only when they are used properly.

Respiratory protection is regulated by OSHA. Their standard applies to general industry,
construction, shipyard, and marine terminal workplaces. OSHA requires that in any workplace--from a job site involving one employee to a plant with a few hundred people or more-- the company or business must implement a written respiratory protection program with work site-specific procedures.A safety officer is usually appointed to oversee these tasks.

A small business respiratory protection program is a set of procedures and policies detailing the use of respiratory protection items.The most basic program will cover when respirators are worn but also how they are worn and which ones to wear.

Choosing the correct respirator is required to protect the employee against the different hazards encountered.Choosing the right equipment involves:

  • Determining what the hazard is and its extent,

  • Considering user factors that affect respirator performance and reliability, and

  • Selecting an appropriate respirator.

Equipment must be used in line with specifications to receive the protection advertised by that product.

Always determine the chemical and physical properties of the contaminant in the air.Also the amount of oxygen in the air must be evaluated.For instance, if you are working in a dust filled building, you will need an air-purifying respirator.If you are working in a man-hole has filled with CO2, you will need to wear an atmosphere-supplying respirator because there is no usable oxygen in the hole.

Air-purifying respirators use filters or sorbets to remove harmful substances from the air
. They range from simple disposable masks to very complex devices. They do not supply oxygen and must not be used in low oxygen atmospheres or in other areas that the filters won't work.Think of these filters as cleaning the air before you use them.

Atmosphere-supplying respirators are designed to provide breathable air from a clean air source other than the surrounding contaminated work atmosphere. They include supplied-air respirators (SARs) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units.Think of these filters for use when the air can't be cleaned or doesn't exist in the work area.

You must also evaluate the time that an employee will need to be in the area where the respirator is needed.Don't forget to add the time that it takes to travel to and from the contaminated area.Some respirators have relatively short time periods of use.If the task needs a longer time period to complete, you may need to consider using an air compressor that supplies breathable air.

In summary, you have two types of respirators to choose from: air-purifying and atmosphere-supplying.Determine which type is needed by the conditions of the work area.Don't forget to calculate how long the employee will be in need of the respirator to complete the task.

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