OSHA states that an estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.
What is a respirator?
A respirator is a device that protects you from inhaling dangerous substances, such as chemicals and infectious particles. Respirators are among the most important pieces of protective equipment for working in hazardous environments. Selecting the right respirator requires an assessment of all the workplace operations, processes or environments that may create a respiratory hazard. The identity of the hazard and its airborne concentrations need to be determined before choosing a respirator. This assessment should be done by experienced safety personnel or by an industrial hygienist. There are several different types of respirators, as described below.
How do respirators work?
Respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean breathable air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.
Examples of different types of respirators:
- Particulate Respirators
- Chemical Cartridge/Gas Mask Respirator (Air Purifying Respirators: APR)
- Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
- Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
ORR Safety has an online catalog which includes many different styles of respiratory protection. If you have any questions not answered by the information here or need guidance in selecting the appropriate respiratory protection for your workplace or activity feel free to contact us.