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 What is Respiratory Protection?

Respiratory protection is designed to protect worker health and is a program governed by the OSHA (1910.134) required by all employers whose employees have the potential to be exposed to specific job hazards and that are required to wear respirators when effective engineering controls are not feasible.

What is a Respirator?

A respirator is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is designed to protect the wearer against a variety of harmful airborne contaminants

Where can I get a respirator?

A respirator can be purchased at any safety supply warehouse or hardware store.

If your employer requires you to use a respirator, they must first have you medically evaluated to wear a respirator at no cost to you and respiratory protection trained. This is to ensure that you are physically able to use/wear a respirator and understand the limitations of your respirator. Respiratory protection training can be provided by Best in the West Safety if needed. Once you are cleared to wear a respirator and trained, your employer can call Best in the West Safety and schedule an appointment to be fit tested.

Our personnel are available on Thursdays between 10AM – 2PM for unscheduled fit testing. Please call if you require a fit test.

Can any respirator be used?

Respirators shall be selected based on hazards to which the worker is exposed. For example: particulates, vapors oxygen deficiency, or combination. Also, OSHA requires the use of certified respirators.

What is a fit test?

A fit test is a where the wearer is taken through a series of tests to ensure the respirator does not leak in order to protect them from exposure to harmful airborne contaminants.

What is the difference between a filtering facepiece and a dust mask?

A filtering facepiece is a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) approved respirator equipped with the proper filter and/or cartridge for the job task.

A dust mask is not a NIOSH approved respirator and are worn for comfort against nuisance dust, like mowing, gardening, pet allergies, sweeping and dusting.

How do I know the respirator I receive will protect me from exposures to particulates or hazardous chemicals?

Your employer is required to evaluate the health and/or chemical hazard that you may be exposed to for that job task. Once that evaluation has been performed it will match the type of filter and/or cartridge necessary to maximize the removal of the particulate or chemical hazard.

Respirators used shall be NIOSH approved. NIOSH issues certificates of approval for respiratory protection equipment under the provisions of Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 84 (42 CFR 84). NIOSH will issue certificates of approval only for complete respirator assemblies or combination respirator assemblies that meet the minimum requirements set forth in the regulation.

The issuance of the NIOSH certificate licenses the approval holder to use the NIOSH approval label and obligates them to maintain the quality of the product and provide replacement parts in accordance with the approval. NIOSH approval-holders communicate NIOSH-approved configurations to the user community and other affected parties through the NIOSH Approval Labels and related User Instructions.

The labels and User Instructions serve as notification that the products listed are NIOSH approved and document approved configurations, protections, and any pertinent cautions and limitations with regards to use. The NIOSH Approval Labels list the major subassemblies that belong to the approved respirator configurations. If any major subassembly has user-replaceable components which are not listed on the approval labels, they must be identified (by part number) in the User Instructions. The User Instruction manuals are controlled documents that are maintained as part of the approval and listed on the approval label for most types of NIOSH-approved respirator assemblies.

Still in doubt? Contact the respirator manufacturer or go to their online portal for respirator selection.

How often do I get a fit test?

Fit tests shall be performed annually along with training. Usually only an annual medical questionnaire is required. This is to ensure there have been no changes, like: weight loss or gain (since that may cause a change in the size of respirator) or changes to your facial features or your medical history.

Who is responsible for maintenance and care of my respirator?

You are. In the training you will be taught the do’s and don’ts for the care and maintenance for your respirator. (See also: How to Wash Your Respirator.)

Can I wear make-up foundation, sunscreen or sport a beard?

Under the OSHA Respirator standard, Facial hair like a beard, mustache, stubble beard growth or sideburns can affect your respirator's ability to protect you. Anything that comes between your face and the respirator's seal or gets into the respirator's valves can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator facepiece and you will not be protected.

For example, if you have long hair, make sure it doesn't get between the respirator seal and your face because this can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator. Also, any type of apparel which interferes with the sealing surface of the facepiece shall be adjusted or removed.

As a best practice, make-up foundations and sunscreen should not be worn with your respirator.

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