• Mar 22, 2021
  • Vipul Rana

A respirator is a protective device that protects users from hazardous air contaminants.  Respirators protect in two ways. The first method is to remove pollutants from the air. Particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters, which filter out fluids and gases, are examples of this type of respirator. Other respirators protect by providing clean, breathable air from a different source. Airline respirators, which use compressed air from a distant source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which have their air supply, are examples of airline respirators.

According to a 2001 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.3 million employees, or about 3% of all private-sector employees, wear respirators on the job, either willingly, to comply with laws, or in an emergency.

Respirators are used in about one out of every ten private sector workplaces, and they are used by workers voluntarily about half of the time.

About 40% of these workplaces do not provide workers with special training on using respirators, instead of relying on manufacturer instructions or claiming that training is unnecessary. Employees are trained to understand the use and limits of the respirators they wear in 59 percent of workplaces.

The most common reasons for wearing air-purifying respirators are paint vapors and dust, while the most common reasons for wearing air-supplied respirators are paint vapors and solvents.

In 95% of workplaces where respirators are used, air-purifying respirators, most commonly dust masks, are worn. In 17% of the workplaces, air-supplied respirators, also known as self-contained breathing apparatus, are used.

Dust masks are the most commonly used air-purifying respirator, accounting for over 71% of all usage. Powered air-purifying respirators are used by less than 15% of people.

Why You Need a Respirator Mask: Protecting Against Particulates, Airborne Threats and Respiratory Hazards

Wearing a mask is appropriate and even expected by some practitioners. Doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmaceutical contractors are among those who fall into this category. Masks and other safety equipment, such as gloves, protect doctors and nurses from infectious diseases while also providing a sterile, sanitary environment for the patient. However, medical practitioners aren't the only ones who need masks at work. Many working professionals, including carpenters, woodworkers, painters, dusting professionals, DIY workers, and others, should wear a respirator mask due to dangerous chemicals, fumes, mists, vapors, dust, and other contaminants present in the air and on the job site.

Who Needs a Respirator Mask?

Respirator masks protect people from hazardous gases and particulates such as dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid drops.

In many professions, respiratory masks should be worn for protection. Workers who may be exposed to gases or vapors, such as those working in the chemical industry, should wear a protective mask. Construction laborers, contractors, welders, and other employees exposed to asbestos should use them. Anyone working in the farming industry, landscaping, or labor-intensive jobs should wear a mask to protect themselves from dirt, dust, pesticide, or fertilizer fumes.

Masks are also necessary for some military personnel, miners, mechanics, and anyone else who may be exposed to low oxygen levels, hazardous sprays, fog, or smoke. These dangers and threats can result in cancer, lung disease, or death.

Types of Respiratory Masks

To protect the wearer from a dangerous environment, a respirator covers the nose and mouth or the entire face or head.

There are two classes of respiratory masks:

  • Air-Purifying Respirators: - Filters, cartridges, or canisters are used in air-purifying respirators to remove contaminants from the air.
  • Atmosphere-supplying respirators: - Respirators that supply clean air from an uncontaminated source are known as atmosphere-supplying respirators. They're perfect for situations where there's a lack of oxygen.

How to Get Fit for a Respirator

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide respirators for their employees. Before using their respirator, employees must be fit tested. Qualitative and quantitative fit testing are the two kinds of fit testing available.

Qualitative Fit Testing

An individual is exposed to a harmless, odoriferous substance during this test. If he or she detects no odor, the respirator is fitted correctly.

Quantitative Fit Testing

A fit-testing instrument is used in quantitative testing to measure leakage into the respirator. During this test, a person wears a respirator and performs exercises that could cause leakage. Quantitative fit testing typically yields more precise and detailed results.

These tests must be carried out by a qualified safety expert or a competent person. Every year, workers should be re-tested to ensure that the respirator still fits their face.

Respirator Maintenance and Care

All respirators must be cleaned and disinfected, stored, inspected, and repaired by contractors. When a respirator is provided to a worker, it should be cleaned as often as needed to keep it sanitary. If more than one employee uses the same respirator, it must be washed and disinfected after each use. Each time the respirator is used for fit testing, it must be cleaned and disinfected.

Respirators must be kept in a clean environment free of pollutants, dust, sunshine, and other potentially harmful elements. If kept out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, an inexpensive airtight plastic container will usually suffice.

Each respirator must be inspected before and after each use, as well as during cleaning. The function of the facepiece, head straps, valves, and cartridges must all be checked during these inspections. The material flexibility of the respirator must also be checked, as well as the degree of deterioration on the facepiece and other components.

If a defect is discovered during the inspection, the respirator must be taken out of service immediately and either repaired or discarded. Only manufacturer's parts for the particular type of respirator must be used if it is rebuilt.