You may see wearing a respirator at work as an inconvenience or unnecessary precaution. But those particles and contaminants in the air, no matter how small, can cause both acute and chronic health issues if inhaled over time. Respirators are a simple but critical protective measure that every employee should utilise when the situation calls for it.
As an employer, it’s your duty to control any hazardous substances in the workplace and prevent employee exposure per Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations. Similarly, employees must review and follow protocols around hazardous materials. When respiratory protection is required, every worker should make it a point to always wear a proper respirator. After all, safety is a shared responsibility.
So what exactly can you do to ensure you're wearing respiratory protection appropriately and getting the most protection possible? Follow these respirator safety tips:
Only use respirators certified for the specific contaminant you’re working with. Look for a label or certification statement on the packaging telling you the intended use and level of protection.
Inspect for damage prior to each use. Look for cracks, holes, tears or any abnormal condition and alert your supervisor if found. Replace if necessary.
Perform a fit check every time you put on your respirator to ensure a tight face piece seal. This seal is critical for performance.
Follow all manufacturer instructions for use, cleaning, maintenance and care. Also heed any cautions about limitations.
Use the right cartridge type if your respirator requires cartridges, such as dust, mist or organic vapor. Check that cartridges are not expired.
Keep track of your assigned respirator instead of using a co-worker's.
Stay up-to-date on training for proper respirator use and care.
The simple act of consistently wearing a respirator when hazards are present can make a big difference in avoiding immediate irritation and long-term respiratory disease or even cancer. Talk to your supervisor today about any other workplace safety resources available to help you stay protected on the job. Your lungs will thank you.