Product Focus: Respiratory protection

Trends in ... respiratory protection

Comfort and compliance

In 2012, exposure to harmful substances resulted in 110 work-related deaths and more than 15,000 cases with days away from work, according to the 2015 edition of the National Safety Council chartbook, “Injury Facts.”

To help prevent these deaths and injuries, it’s important to wear respiratory protection when needed. OSHA states that “compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.”


One way to get workers to wear respiratory protection? Make it more comfortable, according to Anne Osbourn, industrial and utilities marketing manager at Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA. “Right now, a lot of efforts are being made towards respiratory products that are not only safer, but enhance the comfort of the user,” Osbourn noted. “For example, respirator facepieces that are lighter, more compact, with a wider field of view and lower breathing resistance make respirators more user-friendly – and more comfortable for routine use.”


Respirators require maintenance, and employers must have a respiratory protection maintenance program. “The program must provide for the cleaning, disinfecting, inspection, repair and storage of each type of respirator used in your workplace,” OSHA states.

“The goal of respiratory care and maintenance is to maintain the equipment in a condition that provides the same effectiveness as it had when it was first manufactured,” Osbourn said, adding that it is “critical” for workers who use respiratory protection to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and repair.

Know your needs

Safety professionals should make sure they comprehensively understand the workplace’s hazards so they can find – and use – the proper respiratory protection. To do so requires “thorough knowledge of processes, equipment, raw materials, end-products and byproducts that can create an exposure hazard,” Osbourn said.

For more information on respiratory protection selection, visit

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Hearing protection

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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