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respiratory fit testing

  • Respiratory Fit Testing

    Did you ever buy a suit or a dress without trying it on first? The results can be disastrous especially after a long winter. You’ll find yourself saying, “they must be making these things smaller, I’ve worn this size since high school”, and “when is the wedding? ½ hour?” You wouldn’t take a chance like that would you? Taking a chance like that with a respirator can have equally disastrous results leading to illness, long term health problems, and can even be fatal. In a different lifetime I wore an OD (olive drab) uniform for the army. During basic combat training we were given the finer techniques of donning and fitting a “Gas Mask” They marched us into a shed, one squad at a time, with our masks on, and if you were paying attention, fitted correctly. Then, asked us to remove our masks. Did I say that they released tear gas for this little party? If your mask wasn’t fitted properly you were already a hurting unit, but, so we knew what it was like to suffer the effects of the gas, we were ordered to walk around in a circle for what seemed to be a lifetime, then don, and clear the mask again. Not my idea of a good time but the lesson was learned. Respirator fit testing became a pretty important part of our training.

    Under OSHA (1910.134(a)(2)) an employer must provide suitable respirators on the basis of the hazard to which the worker is exposed as necessary to protect the health of the worker. Further where respirators are required under OSHA(1910.134(a)(2) and (C)(1) “The employer must establish and maintain a respiratory protection program” including a written plan. There are several factors to consider when establishing or participating in these programs. The bottom line is: Does your respirator match your hazard, is it available, do you know how to use it, and does it fit? If any of these criteria is not met the results could be fatal. Fit testing procedures and training are required of employers under OSHA(1910.134(C)(1)(i) through (1)(ix)).

    If You are the employee you have responsibilities as well: *Make sure you check its fit after each donning as instructed, *use the respirator as instructed, *respect the equipment to prevent damage,* If your respirator fails remove yourself from the area, seeking clear air, * immediately report a malfunctioning unit to your program manager, *inspect for damage, clean and sanitize after each use.

    Remember this is YOUR PPE “PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT”, and “Respirator Fit Testing” is a big part of it, if you want to return home at night to your family.

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