How is respiratory protection regulated?
Respiratory protection is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In this instance, OSHA determines which type of respiratory protection is appropriate for each type of hazard. Once these standards are set, OSHA enforces them. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NOISH) regulates the manufacture and testing of face masks, and OSHA is responsible for controlling their use.
Which respirators protect against tuberculosis?
Any particulate respirator certified under 42 CFR 84 will protect against TB. The minimum acceptable class of respirator that meets this criterion is N95. A higher class of respirator may be appropriate depending on exposure conditions.
What is a fit test?
A fit test makes certain that a respirator fits an individual wearer. There are two types of tests â quantitative and qualitative. A quantitative test uses monitoring instruments to numerically measure the amount of leakage into the respirator. A qualitative test relies on the wearerâs response to a test agent.
What is the difference between a user seal check and a fit test?
A fit test is used to determine the right size and style mask for the wearer, and is required to be performed at least annually. A user seal check determines whether the respirator has properly sealed, and must be done each time a contaminated area is about to be entered.
How is a user seal check performed?
A user seal check should be performed before entering contaminated areas. For a disposable respirator, the wearer cups both hands around the front of the respirator and inhales. A negative pressure should be detected inside the mask. If leakage is suspected, the mask should be adjusted until it passes the seal check. For a reusable facepiece, the wearer gently inhales while covering the cartridges with the hands. If there is a proper seal, the mask should collapse slightly. If leakage is suspected, the straps should be adjusted and/or the mask repositioned. If a proper seal cannot be obtained, the wearer should not enter the contaminated area.
How is a qualitative fit test performed?
A test agent, such as saccharin, is chosen, and it is determined whether or not the wearer can taste the agent. The subject then puts on the respirator and a fit test hood. The agent is sprayed inside the hood and the subject is instructed to perform physical exercises. If the wearer can taste the test agent, then that respirator fails, and another test must be performed wearing a different type of mask.
What else does OSHA require concerning face masks?
Any employer that provides respirators to its employees is required by OSHA to have a detailed respirator protection program. This includes written standard operating procedures, training, fit testing and medical observation.
What type of care is required for respirators, and who is responsible for it?
Respirators must be cleaned and disinfected regularly. This maintenance is to be provided by the employer in addition to storage, inspection and repair of all respirators used by employees.
What is the life span of a particulate respirator?
The life span of respirator filters varies widely and is determined by the time use restrictions specified by the manufacturer or regulation. Employers are responsible for knowing these restrictions and must develop operating procedures for all types of respirators used by their employees. Filters should be inspected before each use and must be replaced when they become soiled or damaged or cause noticeable resistance to breathing.
Are respirators still effective when used by an employee with a beard or moustache?
Respirators that rely on a tight face seal do not provide adequate protection to employees that have a beard or moustache. These individuals can use a hood or helmet when appropriate.
Can a respirator be modified for a better fit?
Respirators should never be modified in any way. Doing so can decrease their effectiveness and expose employees to serious harm.
Which type of respirator works best for mold spores?
There is no OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for mold spores. Your local health department can provide information on how to protect against mold spore exposure.