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Published on Nov 30, 2016
Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year. The list is compiled from thousands of workplace inspections conducted by federal OSHA staff.
Year after year, one of the top 10 cited violations involves respiratory protection. OSHA reports that an estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. 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.
OSHA states that respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean respirable air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.
Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert many deaths and countless illnesses annually. The Standard applies to all occupational airborne exposures to contaminated air where the employee is: • Exposed to a hazardous level of an airborne contaminant; or • Required by the employer to wear respirators; or • Permitted to wear respirators.
Four major duties are imposed by each of these standards. They include: • Using engineering controls where feasible to control the hazard. • Providing an appropriate respirator. • Ensuring the use of an appropriate respirator. • Instituting a respiratory protection program that complies with the rest of the standard.
These are just a few things to know about respiratory protection for workers. To learn more about this or other air quality, environmental, health, safety or occupational issues, please visit the websites shown below.