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Are your Workers at Respiratory Risk?

Julie Copeland

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An average human being can survive up to 8 weeks without food, 3-5 days without water, butAre your workers at Respiratory Risk? only 5-10 minutes without air. This constant need makes it especially important to protect your workers’ respiratory health. In addition to possible suffocation, breathing hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death.

In the workplace, there can be a multitude of breathing hazards. These include insufficient oxygen, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. To shield your employees from these hazards, proper respiratory protection is required. To detect these hazards and know when to use this respiratory equipment, detectors will alert your employees to keep them safely out of harm’s way.

OSHA estimates that more than 5 million workers in the United States are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces. That being said, respiratory protection is the #4 OSHA violation, with 3,879 citations given in 2013.  If you think that OSHA fines will be less expensive than the cost of keeping your workers safe, think again.

The cost of having an EH&S professional train and fit test 10 employees is less than $2,000. That may sound expensive but for serious violations OSHA can charge up to $7,000 for each violation. If the violation is willful, that number skyrockets to a minimum of $5,000 and maximum of $70,000. If a violation results in the death of an employee, a fine of up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation is possible.

If that isn’t enough to change your mind, consider this: while it is difficult to define how many deaths occur as a result of respiratory illness contracted in the workplace, the OSHA estimate is in the thousands each year.

With these substantial moral and monetary powers in play, it is important to remember OSHA guidelines:

  • Quantify the chemical concentration level to which employees are exposed

  • Implement engineering or administrative controls where levels exceed required thresholds

  • Develop, implement and maintain a Respiratory Protection Program where respirators are used

  • Provide annual training and fit testing

  • Provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator

Here at Arbill, our mission is to keep your workers safe. Don’t put your workers at risk for long term health effects by overlooking respiratory safety and make sure you have the proper equipment necessary for their protection.

Have a safe day!

Topics: Arbill, proper respiratory protection, OSHA, EH&S, Respiratory risk

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