|English: Respirator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Monday, April 13, 2015
NIH Still Active in Gulf Region Five Years After Oil Spill - as we've written in the past, the increase use of respirators during disasters is a necessary step to prevent worker exposure to contaminants that make them sick immediately or in the future. Respirator use during disasters continues to be optional when it should be mandatory. Disasters typically involve exposures to asbestos, silica, lead, poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), etc. The only way to protect yourself from many of these contaminants is through the use of properly fitted air-purifying respirators.
A properly fitted air purifying respirator will protect workers for most disaster and demolition exposure issues. Providing workers with this type of respirator requires that you meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 1910.134 respirator standard. The standard is not that difficult to comply with. It does require a plan for respirator use (selecting the type of respirator that will protect workers), medical evaluation for employees using respirators (to ensure they can wear the respirator), fit testing (to ensure the employee wears the correct size and it fits), and training the worker (so they know how to wear a respirator and its limitations). There are other requirements but these are minimal compared to the four main requirements listed above.