Working with hazardous materials goes hand in hand with taking adequate precautions to take care of your body and health. Sometimes, we cannot control the danger in our working environment, but we often can protect ourselves from such danger. When you find yourself in these working environments, respirators are one of the best ways by which you can protect yourself from the health risks that come with working in such an environment.
There are different respirators for different purposes, and you must use the right one for the right circumstance. Here’s a guide on finding the perfect respirator that suits you.
What are the Hazards?
It is essential to know that finding the best respirator doesn’t come easy, and there are certain hazards you’ll face. This is because there are different respirators, and each one has different hazards that it can handle. The first step to choosing the perfect respirator is determining the hazard’s form and whether the particles will be vapours or gas. It is also essential that you find out the hazards you are likely to face in your working environment, such as ammonia, water-based latex, hazardous dust, silica, stainless steel, galvanised lead, bleach, pesticides, insecticide, etc.
You might face many more hazards aside from the ones listed above based on your work, but they are good for finding the perfect respirator. Try as much as possible to find out about the hazards of the next job site to bring the perfect respirator along with you.
Assessing the Situation
The working environment should be properly accessed to determine workers’ exposure to a dangerous substance. This will help determine if respirators are needed on-site and, if yes, what type of respirator. This is the next step after discovering the possible hazards you will face at work and the form they will take either vapour, gas, or both.
You can also assess the situation better by measuring respiratory protection standards in mg/m3 (milligrams per cubic meter of air or ppm (parts per million). After measuring, you can list the need for respiratory equipment in a working environment. Should your measurement result be high and difficult to read, it is advisable to use a respirator.
Level of Protection
After ascertaining that you need a respirator, the next step to finding the perfect respirator is answering the question about the type of respirator you need. There are several respirators, categorized under full face, half mask, and disposable. Full face and half mask respirators provide a high level of protection against diseases in the air. They are comfortable to use, and they have several layers of filters that wearers can switch depending on their needs.
Disposable respirators are very popular, and they do not offer long term protection for some hazards. They can be used in environments where particles inhaled might not lead to a worker experiencing serious illness but instead cause an annoying odour to the respiratory tract.
Filters allow you to breathe properly and remove hazardous substances from the air. There are different filters for different respirators. Disposable respirators have built-in filters, while half mask and full-face respirators have a filter that can be changed.
Filters often have ratings, so choose the ones with the rating that best suits your working environment. For instance, rating for compatibility with oil-based include that it shouldn’t be reused with oil-based, it is resistant to oil for close to 8 hours, and it is oil proof.
Filters are very important, and anyone you choose should be approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This agency ensures that the respirators protect wearers to the degree they claim.