The use of respiratory equipment is common sense for workplace tasks such as asbestos removal, but the need for this piece of safety equipment falls into more of a gray area for other workplace environments.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations mandate that employers have a written respiratory protection program if they require or permit employees to wear a respirator. This program should establish standard operating procedures concerning the use and maintenance of respiratory equipment. The employer also must be able to demonstrate that it enforces and updates its program as necessary.
You know you need a respirator if:
- The product or equipment in use features a label directing the operator to use a respirator.
- You had difficulty breathing the last time you were in a particular environment (such as a building, barn or silo).
- You have a medical condition such as asthma, emphysema or heart disease.
“If you think you need a respirator, you probably do,” said Dennis J. Straubinger, DO, MPH, MRO, occupational medicine physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “In addition to using a respirator when appropriate, it is important to select the correct model for the job and replace it as needed.”
For more information on occupational safety equipment, call Jason Bandermann, MBA, referral services manager, at 573-331-5825.