Respirators protect the respiratory system from inhalation of hazardous atmospheres. Respirators provide protection either by removing contaminants from the air before it is inhaled or by supplying an independent source of respirable air.
The Respiratory Protection Program provides CWRU employees with a description of appropriate respirator usage and requirements to be certified to wear a respirator. This program is based on of the OSHA Respiratory Protection standard 29 CFR § 1910.134.
Respirators are to be used only when engineering controls (e.g., enclosure or confinement of the operation or ventilation) and administrative controls (substitution of less toxic materials, altered work practices) are not feasible. Respirators can also be worn while engineering controls are being installed or repaired, or in case of emergencies.
To wear a respirator, employees must complete, in order, the following steps:
- Complete the OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (PDF)
- Submit to a medical evaluation by CWRU Health Services to ensure that wearing a respirator will not be a health hazard,
- Attend Respirator Training to learn how to wear and maintain a respirator safely.
- Complete a Fit Test at the EHS office to ensure that the respirator fits properly and securely. Call 216.368.2907 to schedule a time.
Two Respirators Categories
Air-Purifying Respirators - Ambient air passes through a filter, cartridge, or canister to remove contaminants before breathing. Different contaminants require different filters. Because these respirators use surrounding air, they cannot be used in oxygen-deficient environments.
- N-95/N-99/N-100 Disposable Respirators are single-use respirators generally approved only for nuisance dusts, such as cement and hay dusts. These respirators are not designed to filter chemicals.
- Half mask and full facepiece respirators provide protection against dust and particulates as well as chemical mists, fumes, vapors, gasses, or any combination of these contaminants.
- Powered Air-Purifying Respirators contain a portable blower that pushes ambient air through a filter and supplies purified air to wearer. The powered type is equipped with a tight-fitting facepiece or a loose-fitting helmet, hood, or suit.
- Atmosphere-Supplying Respirators– These respirators provide breathable atmosphere, independent of the surrounding air. These respirators include Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and Air-Line Respirators.
Voluntary Respirator Use
At times, employees may wear respirators to avoid exposure to hazards, even if the volume of hazardous substance is below OSHA limits. If respirators are provided for voluntary use or if you choose to provide your own respirator, precautions (PDF) prevent the respirator from being a hazard.