Properly fitting respirators

January 12, 2011

Respirators are vital pieces of protective equipment in many workplaces, protecting workers against harmful fumes and contaminants. But respirators cannot do their job effectively if they are not properly fitted.

To be sure a respirator fits properly, WorkSafeBC suggests trying on several different kinds – both different sizes and different brands, as these may fit differently on the wearer’s face. When a respirator fits correctly, the straps should be adjusted so the facepiece fits snugly, but not so tightly that it leaves red marks or digs into the skin.

Filtering facepiece respirator – One strap should be positioned above the ears and over the crown of the head. The other should be positioned below the ears and around the neck. Strap-on adjustable respirators can be tightened and loosened without removing the facepiece. When adequately adjusted, straps should be tucked under a hard hat or hood. If the respirator has a metal nosepiece, it should be molded around the wearer’s nose to maintain a proper seal.

Elastomeric half-facepiece respirator – As with filtering facepiece respirators, the metal nosepieces on these respirators should be molded to form a proper grip over the nose. When putting on an elastomeric half-facepiece respirator, the wearer should position the head harness, grip the straps and tighten, but not so tight that it leaves marks on the face. When properly tightened, the wearer should fasten the buckle and then adjust the fit.