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Respirator seal not adequate, no protection

Written by: Luis Silva, Health Consultant, USF SafetyFlorida

According to OSHA Regulation CFR 1910.134(g)(1)(i)(A) –  Respirators shall not be worn when conditions which interfere with the face to facepiece seal or valve function are present.  Such conditions can include the presence of facial hair, a beard, extended sideburns, a skull cap that projects under the facepiece, or temple pieces on glasses. Potential effects include Illness and serious injury from exposure to toxic inhalation hazards; or illnesses as a result of no protection or insufficient protection for the respiratory hazards, due to improper respirator face to facepiece seal.   

A system of regular self-inspections of all work practices, equipment, work processes and worker safe behavior is an excellent tool to identify hazards, correct them in a timely manner and most importantly to prevent hazards and serious injuries.  The effectiveness of regular self-inspections can improve with additional formal safety training and awareness training; as new hazards are discovered.  Also, train employees in the proper use of respirators and all personal protective equipment.  Instruct the employees to properly wear respirators without conditions that interfere with the face to facepiece seal or valve.  Such conditions can include the presence of facial hair, a beard, extended sideburns, a skull cap that projects under the facepiece, or temple pieces on glasses.

Consider providing OSHA 10-hour training for all managers and supervisors. Also, as hazards are identified on inspections, remind employees to abate the hazard immediately. When employees are trained, skilled, knowledgeable, and authorized, added to a clear system of hazard and correction reporting and tracking, the hazards in the workplace will be eliminated and injuries will be prevented.  Communicating the results of inspections to employees and allowing the safety committee or safety team members to perform regular facility inspections is a valuable tool to increase employee participation and employee awareness. For more information about workplace safety, or to request SafetyFlorida Consultation Program services, please visit our website at www.safetyflorida.edu or call us at (813) 974-9962.