Half mask respirators provides exceptional level of protection to workers from harmful gases, fumes, vapors, chemicals, dust and is used for purifying air which is contaminated. After all the protection these masks provide they also needs regular cleaning and maintenance. This should always be kept in mind that regular maintenance and cleaning also depends on level of airborne contaminants present in the air where you use respirator for protection.
Limitations OF RESPIRATORY
Half face respirator mask does not supply oxygen. You should never wear them in the environment deficient of oxygen. Also where you feel you need full body protection due to chemicals present in the atmosphere then you should avoid wearing a half face mask and should wear a full face mask or supplied air respirators with other safety gears like body suit, gloves etc. Half face respirator is useful where concentration of atmospheric contaminants exceeds an exposure level, but is relatively low. Certain half face respirators come with different filters and cartridges and each filter and cartridge is useful for different purposes. You must wear the respirator with correct filters and cartridges that are designed for specific area of work. Respirator provides protection only when correct type of filters and cartridges are used for the contaminants of concern. Also you must keep in mind that half mask respirators do not provide skin or eye protection and you should never use them where contaminants may cause eye or skin irritation. Always read manufacturer’s instructions before using respirator and wear the respirator that has NIOSH certification.
Cartridge and Filter Replacement
Half face respirators are effective only if you wear them with correct type and combination of cartridges or filters. Each set of Cartridges and filters are designed for specific task and purpose and they should be worn in the area for which they are designed. Cartridges and filters should be replaced after a certain period of time and use as they come with limited service life. Usually filters and cartridges can be used for around 40 hours of work or you can also change them when it gets tough to breathe through them. When not in use you should keep the filters in a dry place at room temperature. Filters and cartridges become ineffective if they get in touch with humidity, contaminant, concentrations, etc. once the seal is broken.
Face to Respirator Seal
Half face respirators are effective only when they get properly sealed around the face. You should avoid wearing a respirator if you have full grown beard on your face because with beard you won’t get proper seal from the respirator and the leakage persist. Respirator users must be clean shaven in the areas where the face piece meets the face. Workers or employees who experience a change in facial configuration that may affect the fit of the respirator, such as facial scarring or extreme weight gain/loss, they should report the situation to their supervisor and should not enter the contaminated area with a mask that has leakage. Also always wear the safety glasses along with the respirator mask.
User must inspect the respirators before use. Users must read the user manual and should follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Other than the manual recommendations users must also keep the following check.
- Check if the respirator is clean and ready to use.
- Check the expiry date of the filters/cartridges before use and also check if they are properly mounted or not.
- Respirator must get properly fit to the face and there should be no leakage.
- Check if the valves are properly seated in the place.
- Check the strap condition and there elasticity.
You must enter any hazardous environment by putting a half face respirator mask. Before you start any task that will generate an airborne hazard you must wear a properly sealed respirator mask.
Working While Wearing the Equipment
Before you start work in any hazardous area wearing a respirator you must know about the airborne contaminants and the signs and symptoms of exposure. Always use the filters and cartridges that are specially designed for that area of exposure. If you smell or get any kind of taste while wearing the respirator then you must discontinue work and leave the area. Check any kind of leakage and talk to your supervisor. Seek medical attention, if necessary.
- While working using respirator, if breathing becomes difficult, it is a sign that you need to replace the filters or cartridges. At that time you must leave and area and should replace the filters or cartridges.
- If there is any leakage in the mask or you detect the smell or taste of the chemical, immediately leave the area. Check the filters and fitting of the respirator before you resume your work.
- After everyday use you must clean the respirator daily as directed by the manufacturer.
Cleaning the Respirator
Cleanliness of the respirator is must after each use of it. Check the user manual to know how you can clean it. Also follow the steps for cleaning the respirator.
- After using the respirator workers must clean it at the end of the day. The cartridges must be replaced as required. Always remember not to share the respirator with other workers.
- While cleaning you must dismantle the respirator and put the cartridges and other attachments aside. Now clean the face piece in warm soap and water. You can also scrub the equipment if required. Rinse with water and let the mask air dry. You can also clean it with lint free towel after washing.
- Reassemble the respirator when it’s clean and dry. You can replace the defective valves, straps, and should change the filters if required. Put the mask in a sealed plastic bag and put it in a dry place.