Respirators are a critical piece of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), and using the wrong type can have life-threatening consequences. Consequently, knowing your respirator options, along with understanding how to choose the proper one for your workplace environment, is essential to your productivity and health.
Two Types of Respirators
There are two basic types of respirators:
- Supplied-Air Respirators (SAR), and
- Air-Purifying Respirators (APR)
The type of respirator a worker needs depends on the hazards they face on the job site. Please note that respirators should only be used when these hazards cannot be mitigated through elimination, substitution, or engineering contaminants out of the workplace.
Supplied Air Respirators
Supplied air respirators provide air either through an airline hose fed from an uncontaminated air source located away from the hazards; or through a compressed air tank (i.e., Self Contained Breathing Apparatus or SCBA).
SAR systems either come as tight-fitting full- or half-face respirators. If you are working in a confined space with a lack of oxygen or hazardous contaminants (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH)), you will need a tight-fitting sealed full-face supplied air respirator designed with an emergency escape cylinder. An SCBA is another acceptable means of protection in IDLH environments. However, if you’re working in a non-IDLH environment, you can use a loose-fitting hood that covers the head and neck and provides a constant supply of positive pressure air to keep contaminants out of your breathing zone.
Air Purifying Respirators
Air-purifying respirators don’t supply air; instead, they remove contaminants like dust, mists, and organic vapors by filtering out particulates through an appropriate filtration or absorbent cartridge or filter. Because of that, these types of respirators CAN NOT be used in atmospheres where there is a lack of oxygen or classified as IDLH.
APRs are available in non-powered and powered configurations. In addition, Allegro offers a variety of Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) as standalone headtops or complete particulate systems intended for both the industrial and healthcare markets.
- PN 9935 EZ Air Economy PAPR
- PN 9935-DLX EZ Air Deluxe PAPR
- PN 9936 EZ Air Max PAPR
- PN 9937-G EZ Air Flex Shield PAPR
Selecting the Right Type of Respirator for Your Workplace
Asses the Types of Hazard Workers May Be Exposed To
In environments that have a lack of oxygen, a supplied air system will be required. In situations where there are particulate hazards, such as dust, you will likely use a filter air-purifying respirator or powered air-purifying respirator.
An exposure assessment conducted by an industrial hygienist or an experienced and trained safety professional will determine exposure levels for the types of contaminants you’re testing for and select the proper respirator based on OSHA regulations that are right for your application.
Elements of Respiratory Protection in the Workplace
Of course, selecting the right PPE is just one part of ensuring workers’ respiratory safety. Other things employers and safety professionals need to do include:
- Assess the hazards and evaluating other methods of controlling them
- Conduct an exposure assessment
- Develop a written respiratory protection program
- Conduct medical evaluations
- Perform qualitative or quantitative fit tests
- Provide the appropriate level of training to workers who will use respirators
To ensure optimal functionality, respirators must be used and maintained properly.
- Ensure that all employees who wear respirators are cleanly shaved
- Encourage employees to perform seal checks whenever they wear a respirator
- Store respirators away from dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, damaging chemicals, and excessive moisture using proper respirator storage products
- Clean and disinfect the respirator according to the manufacturer’s specifications
- Inspect respirators for function, fit, the pliability of elastomeric part, and the overall condition of the facepiece
In accordance with OSHA regulation 1910.134(h)(2)(i) “All respirators shall be stored to protect them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals, and they shall be packed or stored to prevent deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve,” we offer numerous storage products that ensure the safety of your respirators.
- PN 2000 Respirator Storage Bag
- PN 2010 Half Mask Respirator Carry Bag
- PN 2020 Full Mask Respirator Carry Bag
- PN 2025 Full Mask Storage Bag
- PN 2025-01 Deluxe Full Mask Storage Bag
- PN 4001-05 Large Disposable Respirator Storage Bag
- PN 4001-06 Extra Large Disposable Respirator Storage Bag
- PN 4100-P PAPR Wall Case
- PN 4200 One-Door Storage Cabinet
- PN 4205 Two-Door Storage Cabinet
- PN 4400 Respirator Storage Wall Case
- PN 4500 Emergency Respirator Wall Case
- PN 4550 Hi-Viz Heavy Duty Emergency Respirator Wall Case