What’s Wrong With This Picture?

| OSHA, USF Safety Florida

Can you spot the hazards in the above image? Keep reading to find out.

Written by: Michael Tartal, Safety Consultant

A respirator used by employees was not maintained in a clean and sanitary condition. The respirator was covered with paint spray, dirt, and grit. In addition, the respirator was not properly stored.

OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.134(h)(1) states that “The employer shall provide each respirator user with a respirator that is clean, sanitary, and in good working order. The employer shall ensure that respirators are cleaned and disinfected using the procedures in Appendix B-2 of 29 CFR 1910.134, or procedures recommended by the respirator manufacturer, provided that such procedures are of equivalent effectiveness.”

OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.134(h)(2) states that “All respirators shall be stored to protect them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals, and they shall be packed or stored to prevent deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve.”

In this situation, the employer must ensure that employees clean, inspect, and properly store all respirators after each and every use.

The safety hazards: Failure to clean, inspect, and store tight fitting respirators can lead to air leaks which can expose the employee to hazardous vapors, mists and particulates.

Consequences: Prolonged exposure to hazardous vapors, mists and particulates can often lead to fainting, respiratory system injuries and illnesses, various types cancers and even death.

Corrective Action: When the use of respirators in the workplace is required or mandated by employers, a written respiratory protection program must be developed and implemented in accordance with OSHA regulation 1910.134(c). The program is intended to inform employees of the correct procedures and requirements when inspecting, wearing, cleaning and storing for respirators. This is needed to fully protect employees from the hazards to which they are exposed.

Additionally, OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1926.134(k) requires the employer to provide effective training to employees who are required to use respirators. The training must be comprehensive, understandable, and recur annually, and more often if necessary.

Conclusion: It’s much safer (and less costly over time) to correctly store, inspect, use and maintain respirators. Proper training for employees will give them the needed information to properly use and care for them.

For more information about Respiratory Protection, click here.