Respiratory illness can be serious. In some cases, it can be deadly. And, unfortunately, in the safety world, we see the reality of respiratory issues. Many workers are not properly protected and are at risk for respiratory illness, which can be devastating to them and their families. It can also be devastating for employers who don’t protect their workers properly.
The latest available statistics from Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that about 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.5 million locations nationwide. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.
A respirator is a protective device that covers the nose, mouth, or face to guard the worker against hazardous atmospheres. Respirators protect the user in two different ways. Either it filters out contaminants from the air or supplies clean air from another source. OSHA mandates that employers must provide free respiratory training to these workers. Respirators cannot provide protection if not used properly.
Visit the OSHA Respiratory Protection web page for more information and links to training videos, standards and enforcements: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/respiratoryprotection/index.html.
When I think of respiratory protection, I’m reminded of a recent situation with a client. Before we started helping this client with proper training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), they admitted that they were not in compliance with respiratory protection and a few of their workers developed serious illnesses over time possibly from not using proper respiratory equipment. There was much pain and suffering from those workers and their families as a result of their employer not taking the steps to protect them properly.
Since Arbill has been working with this client, they have now been properly trained and use the correct equipment. As such, there is much greater awareness of being properly protected from the risks of repiratory illness. This awarenes is shared from management through every employee. The organization realizes the importance of protecting their workers and the potential dangers associated with respiratory hazards.
Employees must be trained before they can use a respirator, or assigned working with different respiratory hazards. Certification must be renewed each year. OSHA’s respiratory protection standards have requirements training must cover. Requirements include teaching employees:
Why a respirator is necessary in the workplace
How to place and remove from face
Proper use of the device
What to do in emergency situations when respirator does not work
How to check seal
Employers must also create a respiratory protection program that meets OSHA requirements. Training must be worksite specific and comprehendible to the employees. Information must be provided on the following topics:
Fit testing and the dangers of improper fit
Procedure and schedule for cleaning and incepting devices
Medical evaluation of employees
Air quality standards
Recognize medical symptoms that could prevent use of respirator
At Arbill, we're here to help you protect your workers from respiratory illness. We can help provide these services to your employees. Arbill offers multiple respiratory training programs. We can provide yearly training that satisfies OSHA’s respiratory standards and medical evaluations for employees. Along with proper qualitative and quantitative fit testing. Contact Arbill to help keep your employees safe with proper training. For more information about protecting your workers, contact the safety specialists at 800.523.5367 or visit our website.
Have a safe day!