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Respiratory Protection & Fit Testing

  • Posted on: 23 March 2015
  • By: admin

Respiratory protection is the process of making sure you are safety from substances you may inhale while preforming your daily work.   It also applies to work you may do around your house on you time off.  Many people breath in dangerous substances everyday and don't even know they are doing it.

What substances are we taking about? 

Dust-airborne solid particulate generated by mechanically breaking up solids like those created when sanding or silica dust in cement plants.

Mist-airborne droplets of a material which is liquid at room temperature, like spray paint mist or oil mist from machinery.

Fume-airborne solid particles generated from molten metal, like wielding or lead smelting.

Fibre-airborne solid particles which are several times longer than their width, like glass fibre from insulation or asbestos fibres.

Vapour-gaseous form of a material which is liquid or solid at room temperature, like methyl chloroform from degreasing or toluene from spray paint solvents.

Gas-substances with have no defined shape or volume and can spread infinitely, like carbon monoxide from engine exhaust or propane.

Biological-Airborne agents, diseases or pathogens, like SARS, Influenza or Legionaries Disease.

How do you protect yourself from these hazards?   The first step is identifying the hazards present.   Once you know the hazards then you can select the respirator which best fits your working conditions.   You may need different respirators depending on how confined your space is, how hot or cold it is, how long are you going to be wearing it and other PPE requirements.  It will also depend on your face shape as not all respirators will fit all people.   

Once you have the correct respirator you need to have it fit tested to make sure you are getting a proper seal.  If there is no seal you are not protected and the mask is not doing what it is designed to do...keep you safe.   Fit testing is a two step process. Step one is a baseline test to determine how sensitive you are to the testing agent (a sweet, sour or fruity scent).   Step two,  involves you wearing your mask while being inside a hood covering your entire head and having a very strong version of the testing agent being introduced.   If you can taste the agent your mask is not sealing and you are not protected.

Once you have passed the fit test you need to read the MSDS sheets which come with the chemicals you use to see which filters you should be using with your mask.   If you have a filter for fumes but are being exposed to fibres your mask will not protect you.   Selecting the correct filters is critical.

For more information on how to protect yourself contact us now.