PPE Selection >> Respiratory Protection

Figure 1: Air-line Respirator
Figure 1: Air-line Respirator.
Figure 2: Supplied Air Hood
Figure 2: Supplied Air Hood.
Figure 3: Air-purifying Respirator
Figure 3: Air-purifying Respirator.

The OSHA Hierarchy of Controls

  1. Engineering Controls
  2. Administration Controls
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Respiratory protection is used to protect workers from the effects of toxic, corrosive, or irritant vapors; and gases, dusts, mists, fumes, and fibers when engineering controls are not adequate or feasible. Respirators used can range from sample disposable dust masks to more complex supplied air respirators.

OSHA's Respiratory Protection publication (OSHA 3352) and Respiratory Protection eTool can provide employers and employees information about:

  • Respiratory protection program requirements.
  • Use of respirators.
  • Air monitoring for exposures.
  • Selection of respirators.
  • Employee training.
  • Fit testing of respirators.
  • Inspection and maintenance of respirators.
  • Medical evaluation of employees using respirators.
  • Breathing air requirements.

Note: There are additional PPE requirements for Health-Related Hazards (such as Lead [29 CFR 1910.1025], Arsenic [29 CFR 1910.1018], Asbestos [29 CFR 1910.1001], and Cadmium [29 CFR 1910.1027]).

Figure 4:  Abrasive blaster with blast hood

Potential Hazards

Workers may be exposed to hazardous atmospheres that result in:

  • Being overcome by lack of oxygen.
  • Occupational illness due to long-term low-level exposures (for example asbestos, silica, lead).
  • Acute or systemic illness from exposure to solvents, paints, and cleaners.
  • Acute respiratory damage due to exposure to corrosives (such as acids, gases, mists).
  • Severe illness or even death from inhaling toxic materials (such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide).
Figure 5: Painter with supplied air respirator

Requirements and Example Solutions

Respiratory protection for shipyard employment is covered by 29 CFR 1910.134, which includes the following:

  • "In the control of those occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors, the primary objective shall be to prevent atmospheric contamination. This shall be accomplished as far as feasible by accepted engineering control measures (for example, enclosure or confinement of the operation, general and local ventilation, and substitution of less toxic materials). When effective engineering controls are not feasible, or while they are being instituted, appropriate respirators shall be used pursuant to this section." [29 CFR 1910.134(a)(1)]
  • Respirators must be provided when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the worker. [29 CFR 1910.134(a)(2)]
  • Respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended must be provided [29 CFR 1910.134(a)(2)]
  • A respiratory protection program must be established and maintained. [29 CFR 1910.134(a)(2)]
Figure 6: Clean respirator

Specific operations that have additional requirements include

Figure 7: Dirty respirator

Additional Resources