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OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Surface Preparation and Preservation

 

Respiratory Protection: Problems and Solutions

Problem

Damaged respirators lose their ability to protect workers’ lungs. Paint and other debris can clog filters and interfere with air diaphragms in respirators.

Photo of respirator

Solutions

Photo of stored respirator

When not in use, respirators must be stored to protect them from contamination, damage, and deformation (i.e., kept in their protective coverings, such as a plastic bag).

Many respirator programs limit the amount of time a worker may use the same respirator before he or she must exchange it for a new one.

Photo of stored respirator

Problem

Correct respirator fit is critical in protecting workers from potentially harmful exposure to paint vapors or dust generated by removing coatings.

Worker awareness of proper fit and functioning of respirators is important for protection at the worksite.

Solutions

Annual fit-testing of workers is required and helps to ensure that individuals receive the full health benefits of properly fitted respirators. Employers must ensure that workers perform back-pressure checks (user seal checks) each time put on the respirator. It is also important to remind workers to check the condition of straps and valves.

Photo of worker being fit tested

Photo of worker being fit tested

Photo of respirator

Photo of worker with respirator and respirator

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