Respirators are often needed to control employee exposure to harmful dusts, fumes, mists, gases, or vapors. Respirators provide protection only when fitted properly, and only when the proper filters or cartridges.
Employees must be provided proper equipment for the job, and trained to use and maintain that equipment properly.
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134
Keys to Compliance for Supervisors
- For any job / task requiring respiratory protection, employees must use the equipment provided to them. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to oversee the job and insure compliance.
- The Supervisor should work with the EHS Industrial Hygiene staff to evaluate the job’s respiratory protection requirements, and determine the proper equipment.
- Employees will be fit-tested for a respirator, and trained in proper use and maintenance.
- Each employee is responsible for his/her own respirator, and must clean, maintain, and store the respirator properly.
- Supervisors must make certain each employee has a clean, dry area to store the respirator.
- Supervisors must provide replacement filters and cartridges before the existing item is no longer functional. EHS can assist with this determination.
Frequently asked questions
Q. Do dust masks provide respiratory protection?
A. In general, no. They may be partially effective at trapping large particles, but do not protect against fine particles, mists, vapors, and gases.
Q. What is an N-95 respirator?
A. An N-95 respirator is a face mask, which, when properly fitted and used, will protect the wearer from inhaling 95% of particles greater than 5 microns. These were originally intended for use in medical facilities to protect against certain bacteria. They are not effective protection against fine particles, mists, vapors, and gases. They are not designed for a gas-tight fit.
Q. How do I know if my filter / cartridge is losing effectiveness.
A. If breathing becomes difficult or the wearer can “smell” outside contaminants, the unit should be replaced. When working with toxic materials, a maximum exposure time can be calculated, based on information provided with the cartridge.