Before occupational use of this respirator, a written respiratory protection program must be implemented meeting all the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 including, but not limited to, medical evaluation, fit testing, and training, and applicable OSHA substance specific standards. In Canada, CSA standard Z94.4 requirements must be met and/or requirements of the applicable jurisdiction, as appropriate.
There’s no lack of choices when it comes to respirator selection. For instance, you can get a disposable cup style respirator, a half face piece reusable respirator, one with activated carbon for odors, one strictly for particulates, or any of various other types of respirators.
What’s appropriate for your work? Consider the hazard and do a full assessment of the hazards the workers will face. And then factor in comfort, fit and compatibility with other personal protective equipment (PPE). While OSHA requires fit testing and user seal checks with respirators, generally speaking employees will want to wear well-fitted PPE that’s comfortable.
For the most part, a disposable respirator helps protect a worker from solid and liquid particulates (dusts and mists) in the air while a reusable respirator is commonly used to help protect a worker from gases and/or vapors, in addition to airborne particulates.
“N95” is one of the most common filter classification for disposable respirators used in the workplace. A disposable N95 particulate respirator is commonly used for many construction-type jobs where there is a lot of nuisance dust from drywall sanding, sawing, and scraping because they are inexpensive, lightweight, and comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
Meanwhile, a half-facepiece reusable respirator with appropriate chemical cartridges is commonly found in painting applications or renovation projects where workers may be using chemicals or sprays that release gases or vapors.
Regardless of whether workers are using a disposable or reusable respirator, remember that a proper fit and seal to the face is an essential factor for respirator effectiveness. A proper fit will help prevent contaminants from entering the respirator through gaps in the seal. That’s why OSHA requires fit testing and that workers be clean-shaven when using tight-fitting respirators.
Keep in mind that certain construction activities, such as mold or lead removal, inherently pose more serious health hazards. There are additional regulations that apply, and are additional personal protective equipment is required. In these situations, the various pieces of PPE have to fit together comfortably in order to provide needed protection. In this environment, a full-facepiece respirator is often preferred to protect the eyes and face. A P100 high efficiency particulate filter is required for mold, lead, and asbestos abatement. A coverall is also part of the PPE ensemble, and not just to protect a person’s clothing, but to help keep the hazardous particulates from clinging to the worker’s skin or clothing and potentially transferring those hazards outside of the containment and contaminating other areas.
Always consult appropriate regulations and read/follow all User Instructions and warning before proceeding into any hazardous environment.