#62 Respiratory Protective Equipment

A respirator is an important piece of personal protective equipment and is worn for a variety of different reasons. It is used when an employee must work in an atmosphere that does not have adequate oxygen. It may be required to protect a worker from other respiratory hazards such as dust, airborne contaminants, noxious fumes, etc. Many chemicals that are used today require a respirator to be worn. Safety Data Sheets (SDS) should be accessible to help use the chemicals safely AND serve as protection from any hazardous properties they may have.


Prior to use, the correct type of respirator should be selected. If there is any doubt ask a supervisor. All employees must be trained so that they know how to put the respirator on properly, the method of testing the face-piece to assure the face seal is correct, the capabilities and limitations of the respirator, and the care of respirator equipment.


Respirators function by filtering or purifying contaminated air, or by supplying air from an outside source. Cartridge-type respirators are frequently used, especially in many painting operations. This kind of respirator is designed for short-term exposure. It is approved for low concentrations of contaminants. Remember that this type does not generate oxygen. Should you have need for one or have any questions about one, ask your supervisor.


It is important that chemical cartridges and filters be replaced as necessary to provide complete protection. OSHA requires that employees, who must use respiratory protective equipment approved for use in atmospheres immediately dangerous to life, shall be thoroughly trained in the use of the equipment. Employees required to use other types of respiratory protective equipment shall be instructed in the use of limitations of such equipment. Respirators and related equipment shall be inspected regularly, maintained in good condition, and cleaned and disinfected before being reissued. If the equipment is damaged in any way, do not use it.


Your continuing good health and even your life can be dependent on the quality of the air you breathe. Always use a respirator when needed.