Selecting The Right Type of Respirator For Your Workplace

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:

  1. Supplied-Air Respirators (SAR), and
  2. 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.



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

Respirator Maintenance

To ensure optimal functionality, respirators must be used and maintained properly.

Respirator Storage

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.

Storage Bags

Wall Cases

Allegro’s products are designed with safety in mind. Contact us for your all of your respiratory product needs!