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Author Topic: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection  (Read 557 times)

JasonYost

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When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
« on: December 15, 2017, 01:45:02 PM »
      An Indianapolis, Indiana restoration contractor writes to me, and asked:
      Quote
      ... When do I need a respirator? ...
      1.)  When you know or suspect there is a hazard or risk present;
      2.)  After you have exhausted all engineering and administrative controls; and,
      3.)  As otherwise deemed necessary by law or protocol.

      There are a million places and examples we could go from here.  For example, one with a biological sensitivity to an environmental condition that is, otherwise, safe for workers may be required (by medical or industrial hygiene protocols) to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), despite an employer's efforts to engineer out the environmental stressor (via the engineering controls).

      Ultimately, this is one reason why OSHA, the IICRC and others require that hazards and risks are defined on all restoration and remediation projects prior to the commencement of work, and they require on-going evaluations to assure workplace safety during restoration and remediation projects.  For example, did you know that even though you set up the perfect engineering controls that after work begins they can be compromised in a way that prevents the PPE from protecting workers?  Well, they can.  Only on-going monitoring and evaluations will find those issues; and only these on-going inspections will keep workers safe and healthy while occupying a hazardous work environment.

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      What is a hazardous environment, like a moldy place or something with asbestos?
       
      Yes.  These can be hazardous environments, with real risks to workers and other occupants.  But those are obvious examples.  There are less obvious environments..., too.  For example, consider the example I gave you above, concerning the person with a biological sensitivity to an otherwise safe environment.  For that worker/occupant the environment is hazardous.  How do you care for that person's needs if you don't define the environment in relation to their needs?  (This, by the way, is one reason why OSHA requires medical evaluations before and during employment, as well as after a potential incident.)

      There is a saying that goes:
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      An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

      And that is, certainly, the case with workplace (whether residential, commercial or industrial) safety and health.  Every accident or ill-health situation should be prevented whenever possible.  And that's where hazard analysis (via a proper industrial hygienist's inspection of the building/workplace) is key.  In fact, the key to preventing accidents and ill-health is identifying and eliminating hazards.

      A hazard is a condition or combination of conditions that, if left uncorrected, may lead to an accident, illness, or property damage.  If a hazard is a condition that could lead to an injury or illness, hazard analysis is a systematic, logical approach/process for identifying hazards and recommending corrective actions (i.e., protocol for remediation). 

      Hazard analysis, by a qualified industrial hygienist, helps you understand things like (but not limited to):
      ~ What kinds of hazards and risks are present;
      ~ What standards and regulations apply to the workplace;
      ~ What kinds of engineering controls will work to eliminate those hazards and risks;
      ~ What has to be done to maintain those engineering controls;
      ~ What kinds of hazards and risks remain despite all efforts to engineer them out;
      ~ What will be necessary to protect workers in that environment (e.g., type of respirators and PPE);
      ~ What types of workers are safe to work in such PPE and environment; as well as,
      ~ When the environment is safe to occupy without the engineering controls and PPE;
      ~ And a lot of other important data.

      Quote
      Who provides the respirators when needed?
      Your employer is required to provide you respiratory protection, training, PPE and other measures of protection under OSHA's laws.  An example of that are OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.134.  Some (not all) of the key provisions of this standard include:
      ~ Respirators, when required, must be provided by the employer;
      ~ Medical evaluations must be provided for respirator use;
      ~ Fit testing must be conducted;
      ~ Respirators must be properly cleaned and maintained; and,
      ~ Training and evaluation programs must be provided to ensure effectiveness.

      Additionally, companies with workplaces/job-sites where respirators are required should have an air safety program as part of their overall safety and health program.  This is to assure (as OSHA requires) : (1) that accurate hazard identification and analysis procedures are performed to determine what types of hazards and risk are present; (2) that all air safety program operating procedures are written and understood for the safety and health of workers and others in and around the workplace/job-site; and, (3) the other things we've already discussed and more.

      This air and environmental quality program is to utilize a "competent person" that OSHA (further) calls an "industrial hygienist".  (You can read more about industrial hygiene and who an industrial hygienist is here: http://restorationboard.com/indoor-air-quality-occupant-safety-27/what-is-industrial-hygiene-who-is-an-industrial-hygienist/)



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      There's more that could be said on the subject of respiratory protection, but hopefully this helps answer the initial question of when one needs a respirator.  If you have questions, write to me at [email protected], and I'll try to get to your question here or in email.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more on this and other topics of indoor environmental quality and occupational safety and health.
      « Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 02:11:03 PM by JasonYost »


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      JasonYost

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      Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
      « Reply #1 on: December 15, 2017, 02:02:58 PM »
          For more on the human interface read my article on toxicology's dose-response relationships, here:
          http://restorationboard.com/medical-wellness-health/dose-response-relationships-between-people-the-built-environment/
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          DavidSnell

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          Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
          « Reply #2 on: December 15, 2017, 02:18:31 PM »
              Well done @JasonYost in figuring out RB and all the bells and whistles it has.
              Thank you,
              David Snell
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              JasonYost

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              Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
              « Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 02:52:32 PM »
                  Thank you, @DavidSnell
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                  Dominick Manieri

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                  Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                  « Reply #4 on: December 17, 2017, 09:21:46 AM »
                      great article. i tend to wear mine when doing sewage cleanup, mold removal, insulation removal, dead body cleanup etc. protect yourself out there
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                      JasonYost

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                      Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                      « Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 07:53:56 PM »
                          Thank you, @Dominick Manieri
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                          JasonYost

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                          Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                          « Reply #6 on: December 21, 2017, 02:41:51 PM »
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                              You mention exhausting engineering and administrative controls before using respirators.
                                Am I reading this right?  Can you give an example of these?

                              Sure.  Elimination or substitution of the hazardous substance is an example of engineering controls, as is the use of negative air pressure and controlled air flow in the work area.

                              Administrative controls are those processes used by workers in and around the work area to eliminate or reduce exposure to the hazardous substance.  For example, how they maintain the proper negative air pressure and air flow once established, and how they work with those controls.  Another example is training employees before employing them in the work area.

                              Respirator use can only be justified when these controls are exhausted.  That means you've done all you could to eliminate exposure to hazards in the work area.  The only exception to this rule is when those controls cannot be set up without the use of a respirator.  In such cases it is impossible to establish engineering controls without the use of a respirator. 

                              The same is true for other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
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                              DavidSnell

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                              Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                              « Reply #7 on: January 02, 2018, 05:01:29 AM »
                                  Should home inspectors, mold inspectors, and restoration companies all be wearing respirators?

                                  If ever in doubt, wear a respirator.  I hear of so many who think he or she is protected wearing a white face mask when doing an inspection or performing a restoration project.  Think someone is really protected when he or she is wearing a white face mask?
                                  Is it really filtering anything?
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                                  JasonYost

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                                  Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                                  « Reply #8 on: January 02, 2018, 03:58:42 PM »
                                      @DavidSnell there are actually laws regulating respirator use.  When in doubt, an industrial hygienist should be called out.  This is a federal regulation in the United States; one that the IICRC reflects on in its mold remediation standard of care:
                                      Quote
                                      The selection of PPE depends on the anticipated exposure, types of microbial contamination, activities to be completed, and potential hazards of chemicals that may be used in the remediation process.  Remediatorss should consult an IEP [their word for OSHA's "industrial hygienist"] if there is a question regarding PPE selection.

                                      The reason for this is that not all respirators are the same. Perhaps I will cover that in greater detail in another article, but one has to understand the hazards and risks associated with the workplace in order to (1) exhaust the engineering and administrative controls OSHA expects them to prior to the use of PPE and respirators, (2) select the proper PPE and respirators for the job and (3) monitor the workplace to assure nothing changes that would compromise the respirator's ability to protect workers (a requirement under OSHA laws whenever a respirator is necessary).

                                      Another reason I say: Don't take chances, gain empowering Solutions - today!
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                                      JasonYost

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                                      Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                                      « Reply #9 on: January 02, 2018, 04:44:26 PM »
                                          I just wrote that article on the subject promised previously.  It's called When in Doubt, Wear a Respirator: Respiratory Protection, and can be found here: http://restorationboard.com/indoor-air-quality-occupant-safety-27/when-in-doubt-wear-a-respirator-respiratory-protection/

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                                          Re: When Do I Need a Respirator? Respiratory Protection
                                          « Reply #9 on: January 02, 2018, 04:44:26 PM »
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