Respirators are like shoes, they come in different shapes and sizes and designed for a specific purpose. Some respirators like an N95 mask are disposable and often seen in healthcare settings whereas the half-face elastomeric respirator is reusable and typically used in industrial applications. There are even supplied-air respirators (SARs) which supply breathing air from a cylinder or air line; these are often used when entering a confined space.
What are the employer’s legal obligations?
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, the employer must take all reasonable measures in the circumstance to protect their workers. When it comes to exposure to chemical and biological agents, employers must comply with Regulation 833 (Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents). This regulation states that the employer must take all reasonable measures in the circumstance to protect their workers from exposure to chemical and/or biological agents when these agents are used, stored, handled or processed in the workplace. You can determine if an airborne hazard exists by conducting an assessment in your workplace. If workers are at risk of airborne exposure to biological and/or chemical agents, then controls must be implemented. Regulation 833 describes the type of control measures that employers must implement to control airborne exposure but often implementing such controls is not practical or feasible therefore respirators are required.
What if we are already using respirators in our workplace?
Great, you’ve evaluated your workplace and determined that respirators are required as engineering controls alone cannot control the airborne hazard. The next step is to determine if the respirator and more importantly its filters are appropriate for the job. Not all filters are created equal, some cartridges are designed for organic vapours while others are only designed for particulates. Depending on the chemical present at your workplace a specific type of cartridge is required. Equally important is developing a respiratory protection program which includes training on the use and care of the respirator as well as the frequency of fit-testing.
Connect with ECOH
Connect with ECOH, our team of health and safety professionals can help you evaluate the hazard, conduct air monitoring, develop a respiratory protection program, conduct fit-testing, and provide training.
Let ECOH help you meet and exceed the regulatory requirements, please join us at our next complimentary webinar, “Why Do I Need a Respiratory Protection Program” on March 2nd, 2023 at 1pm. Here members of our Occupational Health & Safety team will discuss the components of a respiratory program, training, types of respirators and more.
For more information visit our website or contact us now.