Respiratory Protection has consistently been in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) annual top 10 most cited violations for at least the past decade. These violations could translate to adverse health effects, costly penalties, and time-consuming delays on day to day business. Employers can protect workers from hazardous air contaminants by testing respiratory equipment to meet OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard 29 Code of Federal Regulation 1910.134. This standard states that employers must establish and implement practices to ensure that respirators are maintained so additional health hazards are not presented to the user. Trace Analytics, LLC can support industrial companies with regular testing to ensure breathing air standards for respirators are met.
Workplaces with functions such as chemical manufacturing, shipyard terminals, mining, and paint/chemical spraying can all put workers at a high risk of exposure to respiratory hazards. Workers may face insufficient oxygen environments, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. The health risks involved with exposure to harmful workplaces can be deadly. Effects of exposure can include cancer, lung impairment, loss of brain function, asthma, and other diseases. OSHA urges employers to go beyond the minimum requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity, and improve safety.
There are two types of respirators: Air Purifying Respirators (APRs) and Atmosphere Supplying Respirators (ASRs). APRs remove contaminants from the ambient air by passing it through a purifying element such as a filter. ASRs provide clean breathing air from a source independent of the ambient atmosphere, such as airline or supplied-air respirators, self-contained breathing apparatuses, or a combination of the two. Dependent on the hazards and respiratory protection plan necessary, ASRs can provide more protection to workers. The assigned protection factor is the level of protection that a respirator is expected to provide when the employer implements an effective respiratory protection program as specified by OSHA. APRs can provide an assigned protection factor of 50-1,000 whereas ASRs can provide an assigned protection factor of 50-10,000. This blog focuses on the standards applied to ASRs. Breathing air for ASRs can be sampled and tested to ensure that it meets OSHA standards.