Respiratory Protection When Working with Gas
What is respiratory protection?
Respiratory protection comes in the form of a protective device that covers the nose and mouth or the entire face that protects people from inhaling hazardous gases. They may also have air-purifying elements that eliminate contaminates from the air or supply the wearer with clean air.
When do employees need respiratory protection?
Employees that work in environments with insufficient oxygen or toxic substances in the air need respiratory protection. Without it they are at risk for developing cancer, lung problems and other diseases.
How do you choose the right respirator?
Different hazards require different respirators, so employees need to be aware of which one will offer them the best protection. There are three types of respirators that protect workers fro inhaling toxic gases.
- Air purifying respirators have a filter that eliminates airborne contaminates from the air being inhaled in through the device. These should be used only when there is already a significant supply of oxygen because they do not supply oxygen and can get contaminated with particles making breathing difficult. They should also only be used when gases can be detected by odor, taste or irritation.
- Supplied-air respirators supply air to the wearer from a compressor or compressed air cylinders. They must be hooked to a 300-foot hose that supplies the air. This hose can become tangled and twisted and gives the wearer only one path in and out. This is a good option when your work environment does not have sufficient oxygen supply.
- Self-contained breathing apparatuses supply clean air to the wearer from a carried tank. This option has limited amounts of oxygen and may also be heavy to some. But it provides the highest level of respiratory protection and allows you more freedom in movement than the supplied-air respirator. It also works well if you work in a confined space.