Category: Management

Respiratory Protection Selection

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Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) acts as the main federal agency dealing with employee safety issues at the workplace. It concentrates on the legalization of employees' health and safety predicaments (CDC, 2013). Thus, OSHA requires that all the members are in their protective clothing while at work. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) is involved in research and provision of recommendations for employees' safety. A respiratory Protective Device (RPD) commonly known as a respirator refers to a piece of safety gadgets that are used for personal protection (Norwich, 2013). The respirators prevent the inhalation of any contaminated air, which falls into either Air-Purifying Respirators (APR) or Supplied-Air Respirators (SAR). This paper aims to select the preferred type of respiratory protection device for a range of four possible workplace conditions.

The APR filters/cleans the contaminated air in the workplace before the RPD inhales it, and mostly, the safety equipment is available in either disposable or non-disposable respirators fitted with disposable filters. On the other hand, SAR delivers clean air from an independent place to the RPD bearer. They are mostly applicable in cases of highly risky situations that may include oxygen-deficient atmospheres and confined spaces (Gantt, 2009). Thus, the RPDs need to be used as devices for immediate control. In addition, the employers must at all levels be enlightened in ways that can lead to elimination and/or minimization of airborne contaminations both at the workplace and at the source of contamination. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to evaluate, which devices will apply to the specified workplace conditions.

Condition 1: Fiberglass components are being sanded smooth before painting by assembly line workers.

At the workplace where the fiberglass components are being sanded into smooth before painting by assembly line workers, the most applicable respiratory protection device will be Powdered APR. This simply means that the APR using the fiberglass to force the ambient air, which, in this case, refers to the smooth sound being produced, will pass through the air-purifying element at the inlet of the cover. This is accounted for the fact that an individual is being involved in the crushing of the fiberglass into smooth sand, which must be expelled pollutants to the user; thus, a powdered APR will be used to take the contaminated air that may be composed of other pollutants. This will be done by removing a sufficient amount of the air from the paint that is expelling pollutants to the painter to allow the air to pass through without the employee inhaling it.

The OSHA filter color of the device that should be fitted with the powdered APR will first have to cover the regulation for air purification and supplied-air respirator. Thus, the permissible practice will fall at section 1910.134 (a) (1), which is a regulation covering occupational diseases that may result in individuals suffering from breathing ailments due to inhalation of contaminated air with harmful fumes as that of paints, and most of the regulation may or may not contain oil; hence, the filter color will be on both N and R series of identifications. The filter to be used should have a teal color code (OSHA Bulletin, 2013).

The rationale for this choice is that in normal circumstances, an employees health is expected to be protected, and in this case, the application of powdered APR for this work placement condition is to allow the removal of contaminants (fumes from paints) from the air through the passage of the air-purifying element before the users inhale it. According to Norwich (2013), the employees need to use chemical solutions to use APR safety equipment as the defense mechanism against respiratory diseases.

Condition 2: A leak in a nitrogen supply line within a service closet requires repair but the supply of nitrogen cannot be interrupted.

In the case of a workplace condition that involves a leak in a nitrogen supply line within a service closet that is requiring repair, but the supply of nitrogen cannot be interrupted, the preferred type of respiratory protection device will be SAR since the production of nitrogen gas cannot stop. The reason for this is the fact that SAR is mostly applicable to scenarios where APR does not offer the bearer enough protection from the airborne concentration of a chemical, similar to the possibility of nitrogen leakage from a supply line where the employee is not able to point out the point of leakage. Additionally, nitrogen is an immediately dangerous gas when inhaled by an individual, and it is thus important that SAR apply to each employee since in most cases, the leakage of the nitrogen gas may be in low concentration making it hard for the individual to detect its smell. In such a way, the worker may have already been exposed to harmful levels by the time he/she detects it (Gantt, 2009). In this view, the employees are provided with tight-fitting-full face and half-mask respirators, helmets, and self-breathing apparatus to be used in the case of leakages such as nitrogen. SAR would be the most appropriate supply of uncontaminated air from the surrounding environment as the supply of nitrogen gas is expected to be continuous. According to OSHA Bulletin (2013), nitrogen has no specific standardized filter code.

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Condition 3: Hydrochloric acid vapor is escaping from a cylinder stored in an outdoor area. Oxygen levels are measured and found to be above 19.5%.

The third workplace condition in the list that concerns Hydrochloric acid vapor escaping from a cylinder stored in an outdoor area, with Oxygen levels being measured and found to be above 19.5%, the type of respiratory protection device applicable in this condition will be APR. This can be explained by the fact that there is less risk of excessive inhalation of chlorine outdoors as it can be seen that the cylinder is outside. The level of oxygen is at least 19.5% is practically safe in the atmosphere although prevention is always important.

The environment is said to be always safe when the oxygen concentration is below 19.5% (CDC, 2013). Normally, chlorine in combination with oxygen is irritable to the skin; thus, the use of a SAR device fixed with a tough piece of material would also be applicable in the prevention of irritability (During et al., 2007). Additionally, the applicability of acceptable oxygen levels limits the purpose of an APR device because of the respirators fitted with filters and adjustable cartilages. According to OSHA Bulletin (2013), the hydrochloric acid vapor filters would use white color coding.

Condition 4: A full 55-gallon drum of an organic solvent commonly used in the production process is releasing vapor.

In a situation where there is a full 55-gallon drum of an organic solvent commonly used in the production process releasing vapor, an APR device would be required as the organic solvent is used in the preparation of certain operations. Due to an organic solvent, the human effect is minimal since the release of the solvent is containable. However, the release of the vapor to the environment shows that much concentration will be on the environment leading to a higher level of the organic solvent in the atmosphere than the level that is controlled at the production site. Therefore, the workers should be in their protective clothing.

Additionally, the use of an APR device will be suitable in the removal of gas and the vapor that is likely to be absorbed by the worker through inhalation. This can be minimized by the reduction of excessive risky breathing of the contaminated air. The combustion of vapor, gas, material cartilages, and filters are applied to the areas where there is contaminated gas, filters, and particulate materials. This is so since the APR filters are meant to handle organic solvents. The color of these filters should be black (OSHA Bulletin, 2013).


This paper has analyzed two types of respiratory protection devices for a range of four possible workplace conditions. For safety purposes, employees wear respiratory protective devices when working in air-contaminated environments to prevent and protect themselves from the inhalation of harmful substances. The reason for this is the fact that excessive inhalation of dust, gases, vapor, and acids may result in adverse effects on the health of the employees. OSHA requests that all the employers provide appropriate respiratory requirements to ensure all the employees are safe. The applicability of different filters fitted in different colors should be communicated to all the involved individuals. Since the filters have different color codes, the color being used should be easily distinguished during use. The employers and employees should be restricted for the use of the color codes to protect against the mixing of different chemicals as is required by NIOSH. The involved individuals should also be alerted on the proper labeling and differentiation of the filters to avoid mixing.

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