Respiratory Protection

Respiratory Protection

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a respirator?

A respirator is a device that is designed to protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous atmospheres. Respirators are divided into two broad categories: atmosphere purifying and atmosphere supplying.

What are the hazards associated with respiratory protection?

Hazards associated with respiratory protection affect the health of the individual and can arise as the result of the type of respirator used, as well as the type of hazardous atmosphere against which they are worn. The use of an air-purifying respirator in an oxygen-deficient or IDLH atmosphere, such as can be found in a permit-required confined space, can result in serious physical harm or even death. Similarly, the use of an atmosphere-supplying respirator connected to a non-respirable type of gas can also yield the same outcome. The use of an air-purifying respirator that is equipped with an incorrect cartridge or canister or which has an APF (assigned protection factor) that is too low for the concentration of air contaminant present can result in acute and chronic illness as the result of overexposure to the air contaminants.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Employees working in conditions that require the use of respirators should never use one until they have been medically evaluated to ensure that using a respirator will not be harmful due to an underlying medical condition. When the use of a tight-fitting respirator is approved, be sure to check that all parts function properly and that it is donned correctly. In addition, be sure that the type of respirator chosen will protect against the air contaminants to which you will be exposed.

What resources are available to assist employers?

In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for respiratory protection in North Carolina:

OSH standards that reference the respiratory protection standard include:

General Industry

Construction

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-807-2875.