Posts Tagged respiratory protection
Are we running exhaust fans enough to keep the air breathable and safe? Are we over-running fans and wasting energy?
Area exposure monitors are ideal for showing airborne particulate concentration over time in a designated area. Personal exposure monitors can do the same, but they also provide usable details about concentrations within the employee’s breathing zone. Used together, the two device types provide effective real-time data for making decisions regarding employee health and ventilation control.
Recently, we helped a customer with a large welding operation. There was visible smoke on the plant floor during operation, so they needed to address both potential hexavalent chrome and total respirable dust exposure. They decided to use the TSI DustTrak DRX handheld unit for area monitoring, and employees started wearing TSI SidePak AM510s for personal monitoring.
The Top 10 list of OHSA’s most-frequently cited violations for fiscal year 2015 has been posted and Respiratory Protection is ranked at #4 with more than 3,600 violations this year.
If you use a negative or positive pressure tight-fitting respirator on the job, OSHA regulations say you need to be fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator you’ll use in your daily operations.
To stay in full OSHA compliance, these tests are supposed to be run before the first time you use the respirator on the job; whenever you change mask style, size, or model; if your physical condition changes that would affect mask fit (dental changes, facial cosmetic surgery, addition or removal of eyeglasses, or obvious changes in body weight). Then, you should be tested every year after that.
First, there are a few things you should know about respirator fit and the fit testing procedure.
Let’s start with the basics.
Every few years, there seems to be a new virus that attracts a lot of media attention. We’ve had swine flu, bird flu, SARS, MERS, and most recently Ebola in the headlines. The healthcare and first responder world are put on full alert. Do we over-react? Maybe. But, it often gets us back to what we should be doing in the first place. We should have a plan to reduce risk. A respirator fit testing program is one of them.
Whether the concern has been spurred by the recent Ebola news, Enterovirus (EV-D68), or the impending flu season, healthcare infectious control teams and first responders are currently showing a heightened awareness for the importance of personal protection gear.
But it’s also important to remember that having the proper respirator is only part of the answer. Ensuring proper wear and fit is critical in preventing the spread of infection to hospital staff, patients, and their visitors.
Statistics shown during a recent presentation from the CDC and NIOSH show that properly-fitting N95 respirators show virtually no transmission of flu virus. Even N95 respirators with poor fit will filter out approximately 86% of the virus, while surgical masks can filter out about 50% of the aerosolized influenza.
So, it may be time to consider reviewing your fit testing procedures, and making sure your fit tests are up to date, with accurate, verifyable results. Here are a couple of tips to get the best fit from your masks: