OHS laws require employers to implement procedures to ensure the proper and safe use of respirators. These Model Procedures include the basic elements for general respirator use and can be easily adapted to meet your own needs and circumstances. These procedures should not be used for operations regulated by specific OHS rules, such as confined space entry, asbestos removal or structural firefighting.
GENERAL RESPIRATOR USE PROCEDURES
- General Use
Workers must use their respirators under conditions specified in this procedure and in accordance with the training they receive on the use of each particular model. In addition, the respirator may not be used in a manner for which it is not certified by NIOSH or the respirator’s manufacturer.
- User Seal Checks
All workers shall conduct user seal checks each time they wear their respirators, using either the positive or negative pressure check (depending on which test works best for them).
(a) Positive Pressure Test
This test is performed by closing off the exhalation valve with your hand. Breathe air into the mask. The face fit is satisfactory if some pressure can be built up inside the mask without any air leaking out between the mask and the wearer’s face.
(b) Negative Pressure Test
This test is performed by closing of the inlet openings of the cartridge with the palm of your hand. Some masks may require that the filter holder be removed to seal off the intake valve. Inhale gently so that a vacuum occurs within the face piece. Hold your breath for ten (10) seconds. If the vacuum remains, and no inward leakage is detected, the respirator fits properly.
- Respirator Maintenance
Workers may leave the work area to go to the locker room to maintain their respirator:
- To clean the respirator if it is impeding their ability to work;
- To change filters or cartridges;
- To replace parts; or
- To inspect the respirator if it stops functioning as intended.
Workers should notify their supervisor before leaving the area to perform these functions.
- Tight-Fitting Respirators
Workers may not wear tight-fitting respirators if they have any condition, such as facial scars, facial hair or missing dentures, that would prevent a proper seal. Nor are workers allowed to wear headphones, jewelry or other items that may interfere with the seal between the face and the face piece.
- Respirator Inspection
Before and after each use of a respirator, the worker or his/her immediate supervisor must inspect the tightness or connections and the condition of the face piece, headbands, valves, filter holders and filters. Questionable items must be addressed immediately by the supervisor and/or ABC Company OHS coordinator.