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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require workers to be free from any hazardous atmospheres. Respirators provide the protection against toxic substances in the workplace by reducing or eliminating them. OSHA’s Respirator Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) has “requirements for program administration, work site-specific procedures, respirator selection, employee training, fit testing, medical evaluation, respirator use, cleaning, maintenance and repair.”

In order to choose the type of respirator, employers must first establish what kind of hazards are in the workplace.

There are two different kinds of respirators according to OSHA and the Grainger Blog:

Air-purifying respirators use filters, cartridges or canisters to eliminate contaminants from the breathable air.

  • Filtering face piece respirators are used to filter out a specific kind of matter. These kinds are often used only once.
  • Disposable air-purifying respirators have cartridges that are permanently attached with no replacement parts. They are intended to be used once or until the cartridge expires.
  • Reusable air-purifying respirators use both replaceable cartridges and parts. According to Grainger, “They can be full face or half mask respirators. NOTE: The replaceable cartridges and parts must be from the same manufacturer to retain a NIOSH approval.”
  • Gas masks are made for faintly higher concentrations of organic vapors, gases, dusts, mists and fumes.
  • Powered air-purifying respirators uses a blower to pass the contaminated air through a filter. The purified air is then delivered into a mask or hood. It filters dust, mist, fume, vapor and gas.

Atmosphere- supplying respirators provide clean air from an uncontaminated source.

  • Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) have a limited air supply that is carried by the user.
  • Air-line respirators include an air hose that is connected to a fresh air supply from a central source. The source of the air may be from a compressed air cylinder or air pump that provides at least Grade D breathing air.
  • Emergency escape breathing apparatuses (EEBAs) According to Grainger, EEBAs “provide breathing air for 5, 10 or 15 minutes depending on the unit. These are for emergency situations in which a worker must escape from environments immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH). “

They may also be classified as tight-fitting or loose-fitting.

Loose-fittingare respirator inlets that cover or form a partial facial seal.

Tight-fittingmeans a respirator that covers the whole face.

Employees must be trained on how to properly use their respirator via OSHA 30 hour construction safety training. Maintenance and repair must also be made possible by employers.

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