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How to select the right respirator mask

2017-02-06 00:00:00

Choosing a respirator is a complicated matter. Experienced safety professionals  or occupational hygienists, who are familiar with the actual workplace  environment, are the staff who should select the proper respirator. They  can choose a suitable respirator only after they have evaluated all  relevant factors. This includes considering the limitations of each  class of respirator. 
Before the proper respirator can be selected for a job, be sure you have already:

·  identified the respiratory hazard.

·  evaluated the hazard.

·  considered whether engineering controls are feasible.

There  are too many types of situations to cover them all fully here. However,  the following questions represent part of "decision logic" that a  safety professional or occupational hygienist can use when selecting a  respirator:

·  Is it to be used in firefighting or emergencies?

·  Is it to be used in oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 18% oxygen in air; some jurisdictions say below 19.5%)?

·  What is the nature of the hazard (chemical properties, concentration in the air, warning properties)?

·  Is there more than one contaminant (i.e. a mixture or more than one chemical is present)?

·  Is the airborne contaminant a gas, vapor or particulate (mist, dust or fume)?

·  Are  the airborne levels below or above the exposure limit, or are they  above levels that could be immediately dangerous to life or health?

·  What  are the health effects of the airborne contaminant (carcinogenic,  potentially lethal, irritating to eyes, absorbed through the skin)?

·  What are the characteristics of the operation or the process (e.g., hot temperature, confined space)?

·  What activities will the worker be doing while wearing the respirator (e.g., strenuous work)?

·  How long will the worker need to wear the respirator?

·  Does the selected respirator fit the worker properly?

·  Where is the nearest safe area that has respirable air?

Use  the MSDS/SDS for guidance on requirements of the particular respiratory  hazard. The CSA Standard Selection, Use and Care of Respirators  Z94.4-11 outlines a respirator selection decision logic model in more  detail.