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Protect Your Workers from Respiratory Illness

Julie Copeland

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It was recently reported that employees of Lake Compounce Family Theme Park who sprayedRespiratory-2.jpg coatings on park equipment and worked with caustic chemicals in the park's paint room were exposed to chemical, burn and respirator hazards. Inspectors cited the Bristol, Connecticut facility for 18 serious violations of workplace safety standards.

Stories like the one in Bristol are all too common. Respiratory illness can be serious, even deadly. Unfortunately, many people may not be properly protected and are at risk for respiratory illness, which can be devastating to workers and their families. It can also be very costly for employers who don’t protect their workers properly.

In an effort to protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays, an estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in more than 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States.

As shared by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these types of 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.

The fit of the respirator around the nose, mouth, or face is crucial to guarding 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.

A long-time customer shared that before Arbill started helping them 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. Since Arbill has been working with this client, they have now been properly trained and use the correct equipment. They now realize 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

Visit the OSHA Respiratory Protection web page for more information and links to videos: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/respiratoryprotection/index.html.

At Arbill, we can help provide respiratory protection for 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.  Let us help keep your employees safe with proper training. For more information about making your workplace safer, contact the safety specialists at 800.523.5367 or visit our website.

Have a safe day!

Topics: Arbill, protect workers, OSHA, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Respiratory risk

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