Whenever possible, use general or local exhaust systems first to control dusts, vapors, gases, fumes, smoke, solvents or mists that may be generated in your workplace. Use hazardous materials only in specific work areas that can be ventilated.
If airborne contaminants are still above safe levels, you must then use respirators to reduce exposure to acceptable levels.
Respirators must be approved for each chemical and specific application by NIOSH. Match the MUC against the measured airborne contaminants to be sure that you have selected the correct respirator.
Develop written standard operating procedures for your selection and use of respirators. These procedures include when respirators must be worn and who, specifically, must wear them. Prior to requiring employees to wear a respirator, they must have medical evaluations to be sure they can safely breathe through the restricted airflow of the respirator.
Once a doctor determines that your employee is medically fit to wear a respirator, you must be sure the particular respirator fits the shape and size of the employee's face. This is referred to as fit testing. OSHA regulations list specific protocol for fit testing.
Employees must be trained on the correct use and limitations of their respirator. Respirators must be stored in a convenient and clean location, away from contaminants and must be regularly inspected and sanitized.
This is a broad overview of one of the many topics pertaining to surface fabrication safety. TechneTrain Inc. has a full line of training and reference materials with detailed information on these and other OSHA compliance requirements for the surface fabrication industry. For further information, visit www.technetrainonline.com, or contact TechneTrain Inc. at 800-852-8314.
- Employers may select respirators assigned for use in higher workplace concentrations of a hazardous substance for use at lower concentrations of that substance, or when required respirator use is independent of concentration.
- The assigned protection factors are only effective when the employer implements a continuing, effective respirator program as required by this section (29 CFR 1910.134), including training, fit testing, maintenance and use requirements.
- This APF category includes filtering facepieces, and half masks with elastomeric facepieces.
- The employer must have evidence provided by the respirator manufacturer that testing of these respirators demonstrates performance at a level of protection of 1,000 or greater to receive an APF of 1,000. This level of performance can best be demonstrated by performing a WPF or SWPF study or equivalent testing. Absent such testing, all other PAPRs and SARs with helmets/hoods are to be treated as loose-fitting facepiece respirators, and receive an APF of 25.
- These APFs do not apply to respirators used solely for escape. For escape respirators used in association with specific substances covered by 29 CFR 1910 subpart Z, employers must refer to the appropriate substance-specific standards in that subpart. Escape respirators for other IDLH atmospheres are specified by 29 CFR 1910.134 (d)(2)(ii).