Four Questions to Help Determine What Respiratory Protection Businesses Need

The biggest challenge businesses face today in providing respiratory protection to their workers is SUPPLY.  It is difficult, if not impossible to get much of the common PPE supplies for Respiratory Protection especially N95 rated ‘dust masks’.

The three most common choices for dealing with respiratory protection in the workplace are the use of a Respirator, a Dust Mask or a Face Mask.  Here are my definitions of each:

         RESPIRATOR - A rubber type half-mask of full-face respirator with replaceable cartridges

         DUST MASK - A paper type disposable respirator commonly called a dust mask

         FACE MASK - A paper or cloth face mask that is unrated to just cover your nose and mouth

Here are four questions that a typical business could ask themselves, in conjunction with their Safety professional, to determine which of these limited resources are really needed:

QUESTION ONE:   Are your employees working in the healthcare field where their job entails having direct contact with the public especially those who are potentially sick?

  1. Have them fit tested for a P100 respirator
  2. Use N95 or R95 filters incl 'dust masks' as a 2nd option.

QUESTION TWO:   Are your employees working in an environment that cannot be otherwise remediated and they may come in contact with asbestos, radionucleotides, silica dust, mouse droppings or any other very fine particulates that OSHA calls out in their standard 1910.134 that would require the use of a respirator?

  1. Have them fit tested for a P100 respirator
  2. Put off the work or mitigate the situation

QUESTION THREE:   Are your employees working in an environment where it's advisable to wear an N95 (dry) or R95 (oily) respirator or 'dust mask'?

  1. Have them fit tested for a respirator with N/R95 cartridge
  2. Use the typical 'paper-type' dust masks with an R95 or N95 rating

QUESTION FOUR:   Are you trying to conform with the Local, County, State and/or Federal guidelines asking that your employees wear face masks in public workplaces?

  1. Make or buy a cloth face mask that is unrated
  2. Use an ear loop type unrated paper surgical mask, 50 per box
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