Respiratory protection

Trends in ... respiratory protection

‘Next-level comfort for workers’

The first rule of wearing a respirator? Get fit-tested. “To truly protect workers from onsite hazards, it is paramount they are properly fitted,” says Axel Reichert, general manager of respiratory personal protective equipment at Honeywell.

Here, Reichert, along with Claudio Dente, president and co-founder of Dentec Safety Specialists Inc., and Jack Hartley from GVS RPB, talk about respiratory protection in the workplace.

The issue of …

Why is fit testing so important?

“If a respirator is loose fitting, it cannot and will not provide proper protection from breathing in potentially harmful contaminants,” Reichert said. “To ensure proper fit, fit tests need to be performed prior to wearing a respirator for the first time and on an annual basis.”

Added Dente: “Airborne pathogens require high-quality respirators that provide an airtight seal to our faces that will filter out airborne particles better than medical masks and disposable N95 respirators.”

But that’s not the only time a fit test should be performed. If a worker experiences changes in facial size as a result of weight gain or loss, dental work, or even scarring, another fit test needs to be conducted.

Facial hair is another consideration. “When it comes to respiratory safety, facial hair can be a huge problem, and a lot of people still don’t understand the impact this has on the level of protection they’re receiving,” Hartley said. “As little as half a day’s stubble is enough to break a tight-fitting seal and allow contaminants into your lungs. Therefore, it’s imperative that people are always clean-shaven to both protect them and prevent any damage to their health.”

Customer concerns

“Today, the industry’s focus of innovation is on next-level comfort for workers to ensure they are properly and effectively wearing lifesaving PPE,” Reichert said. “This means taking into account features such as breathability and material weight when manufacturing respirators.”

But, Dente noted, “there needs to be more education on the level of protection users are getting with these different types of masks.”

Added Reichert: “To ensure you’re providing workers the right gear for the job, we recommend working with your respiratory protection provider to develop a custom PPE solution that meets all your needs.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Instruments/monitors/lone worker devices
  • Fall protection

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)