This is a continuation of our post on respirators. You can find the first segment here.
For anyone that has to wear Personal Protective Equipment, it’s a common fact that if it isn’t comfortable, it is going to be harder to wear it for a full day’s shift. When deciding on a respirator, it is important to find the right type that fits around the face. The type of exposure in the workplace determines the level of protection that is needed.
OSHA requires Fit Testing for all employees. Workers must have time to learn how to put the respirator on the right way, and be sure that it fits. This Fit Testing must be done before the initial use of the respirator and worn at least five minutes before the test is done. There are Respirators Fit Test Supplies specifically for this purpose. User Seal Checks are when the wearer inhales and exhales several times, to be sure the respirator will collapse slightly when inhaling and expand slightly upon exhaling. If air leaks out between the face and the respirator, it is not a good facial fit. A User Seal Check does not substitute for a Fit Test.
When choosing the right respirator for the job, you will need:
- Soft, foam nose pads;
- Bendable nose bands;
- Wide adjustable head straps – they work better than the thin ones that dig into skin or get tangled in hair.
A dual-exhalation valve helps direct exhaled air down and away from face to reduce fogging glasses. If you have changed any facial structure, due to loss of weight or surgery, a new type of respirator may be necessary to ensure a good fit. Respirators will not fit properly over beards.
Be sure to check the label for NIOSH-approved equipment, and read all warnings and instructions that come with the respirator. Your choice should be based on contaminants, workplace concentrations, and other site-specific conditions. The workplace should be compliant with Federal, State, and Local regulations on worker safety, including, but not limited to OSHA regulations. For more information, please go to the NIOSH /NPPTL (National Personal Protective Laboratory) website.