3M RespiratorsFor those who work in an environment that poses a threat to their respiratory systems, it is imperative that proper respiratory protection be in place to maintain health and prevent illness. Across the country, millions of men and women are employed at factories, construction sites, and other industrial settings where, without access to proper respiratory protection, they would be exposed to airborne toxins and irritants on a regular basis. At first, these irritants may seem harmless, but over time, they can cause these dedicated workers to develop a variety of serious, even life-threatening illnesses. If you manage or own one of these environments, the information below will discuss the essentials of proper respiratory protection.

What is a Respirator?

For workers in hazardous breathing environment, their first line of protection against respiratory illnesses will be a respirator. A respirator is a device that covers the nose, mouth, and sometimes the entire head in order to protect the wearer from harmful substances in the air around them. It gives the wearer access to clean, healthy air, regardless of the atmosphere that they may be working in.

There are two major types of respirators: air-purifying and atmosphere-supplying. Air-purifying respirators work by removing potential irritants and pollutants from the air. Some major types of air-purifying respirators include the following:

  • Particulate
  • Gas and Vapor
  • Combination

Meanwhile, atmosphere-supplying respirators provide a continuous flow of clean air from an uncontaminated source. Atmosphere-supplying respirators are typically employed in only the most hazardous work conditions. The major types of atmosphere-supplying respirators include the following:

  • Air supplied
  • Combination
  • Self-contained Breathing Apparatus

For more information about the different types of respirators and which one is right for your job site please contact the safety experts at Gopher Industrial.

Who Needs Respirators?

If an employee works in environment that exposes them to an excessive amount of smoke, dust, mold, chemical fumes, or insufficient oxygen, he or she will usually be required to utilize a respirator. If these harmful contaminants are inhaled on a consistent basis, the worker will be at risk of developing various cancers, lung impairments, and other potentially deadly health conditions.

In environments are that are devoid of healthy oxygen, employees may face physical conditions such as rapid breathing, increased heartbeat, and a loss of mental clarity quicker than workers who are not employed in these environments. A loss of mental clarity can be especially dangerous if it occurs while a worker is operating heavy machinery or performing a task that involves intense concentration.

Respirators should be used anytime a worker enters an environment that poses a threat to their respiratory system. Despite the fact that respirators can be an exceptionally useful resource, they do have limitations. There is no substitute for proper workplace controls and procedures, and employers should do whatever is necessary to reduce the amount of these substances in the air prior to sending in workers.

Basic Respiratory Protective Measures

Although respirators provide a high degree of protection, there are ways that employers and other officials can make the environment safer for their workers. Some of these safety techniques include:

  • Isolating the contaminant-producing materials or devices.
  • Using less harmful or toxin-free products at the worksite.
  • Only allowing workers to work for specified periods of time, in order to reduce exposure.
  • Educating employees on the importance of workplace safety.
  • Requiring medical tests in order to determine whether or not employees are fit to work.
  • Properly cleaning and maintaining the worksite.

Oftentimes, these measures cannot be implemented, and respirators will be required for all individuals at the site.

Promote Respiratory Health

In short, by using respirators and taking precautions, employees can protect themselves from harm. At Gopher Industrial, we offer a wide range of high-quality respiratory protection products that will keep your workers safe in virtually any environment. Don’t wait until it is too late – educate yourself and your workers about the dangers of airborne toxins and then select appropriate respiratory protection equipment from Gopher Industrial.