Work settings where respiratory hazards are present require control of the hazard to protect employees from harmful and irritating agents. Before deciding on which respirator to use, the workplace should be evaluated to identify the most effective methods for preventing exposures to hazardous materials.
To this end, the core principles of industrial hygiene play a big role in determining if respirators or assisted breathing are needed to control harmful exposures. The field of industrial hygiene teaches us to evaluate whether engineering controls can be implemented to control the contaminants at their source of generation. If engineering and administrative workplace controls are not fully effective, then issuing respiratory protection may be necessary.
Air monitoring and personnel sampling is the first step in evaluating the workplace atmosphere in order to determine the potential exposures. These are compared to OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) to determine if the employee is exposed above legal limits, and if so, how much above those limits. ARC Enterprises conducts air sampling according to established protocols in support of client’s programs.
OSHA regulations (Title 8 CCR § 5144: Respiratory Protection Standard) is then used to guide employers in developing a respiratory protection program. The core elements to this program include the following;
- Evaluation and identification of the risks
- Medical evaluation of affected employees
- Selection of Respirators
- Develop written guidelines in accordance with the OSHA standard
- Train employees every two years
Elements to consider with any respiratory protection program include:
- Employee understanding of the limitations for each type of respirator
- Proper use and maintenance of a respirator
- Frequency of changing cartridges on air-purifying respirators
ARC Enterprises works with employers across many industries with respiratory protection programs, including sampling and monitoring, and can tailor the project to your needs and objectives.