Employers that work in areas where respirators are required must have specific safety certifications and must provide respirators and training for all employees. Safety training includes best industrial hygiene practices and explanations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and procedures related to respiratory protection. All employers are responsible for providing employees with OSHA approved respirators on job sites where respirators are necessary. Employers must also provide training for the proper use of a respirator. Respirator safety training must include potential respiratory hazards that employees could potentially be exposed to, and proper use and maintenance of a respirator.
During the training the employer should include in the program:
- Limitations of the respirator
- Proper fit and usage
- Proper maintenance
- How to inspect check and check the seals of the respirator
- Maintenance and storage procedures
- How to recognize medical signs and symptoms
- General requirements and regulations
In order for a respirator to be OSHA approved it must be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and it must be specific for the particular hazards of the workplace. There are two general types of respirators, air purifying and air supplying. Air purifying respirators use filters to remove specific contaminants from the air. Air supplying respirators use alternate air sources, such as a portable air tank, to provide clean air to the user.
According to OSHA regulations, when an employee works in an environment where he or she may breathe contaminated air, the employee must be provided with an OSHA respirator. The employer must also write a respiratory protection program and provide employees with training in respirator use. Employees must receive medical screenings to ensure that they are fit to use respirators. A good place for employees to get information and training is to check online for a Safety Services company that provides expert consultation and training to businesses seeking to establish or improve their safety program.