Monday June 16, 2014

Respirators: A National Safety Month Focus

Respirators are importanttools of our trade and we need to understand their proper use. Approved respiratorsare tested and approved by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety& Health), and OSHA [Occupational Safety & Health Administration] regulatesrespirator use in the workplace. OSHA requires the use of NIOSH approvedrespirators. Respirators come in two basic types:

n Air Purifying - uses a filtering element(cartridge

and filter combination)

n Air Supplying - pumps in clean breathable airfrom

a source away from user

Air Purifyingrespirators are most commonly used in our business. These respirators utilizeprefilters and chemical cartridges to purify the air we breathe. The prefiltersremove particulates (dusts and mists), and the cartridges, usually packed witha special charcoal material, remove gasesand vapors. 

There are three basictypes of prefilters designated as N, R and P. N Series filters can only be usedwhere the filter will not be exposed to an oil mist in the air (N means “notresistant” to oil mist). R Series filters, on the other hand, can be used inthe presence of an oil mist, but they have a use restriction of 8 hours. Finally,P Series filters designates oil proof – these

filters can be used inthe presence of an oil mist without concern to service life (other than when ittraps a sufficient amount of particulates to create breathing resistance).These are standard industry designations that apply to all manufacturers.

In addition, you will generallysee a number assigned to filters, such as N95 or P100. The number portion refersto the minimum filtration efficiency of the filter. Most prefilters have adesignation of either 95, 99 or 100. For prefilters with a 100 designation,they are actually required to provide a minimum of 99.97% efficiency, but forlabeling purposes are designated N100, R100 or P100. So then a P100 prefilterwould provide the greatest durability to materials (oil resistant) and thegreatest efficiency at 99.97%.

Thankfully, we now havea wide choice of very effective and comfortable respiratory protectionproducts.

Be sure you and youremployees are using the right type of respirator, cartridges and filters forthe type and concentrations of pesticides you are using. Read and understandproduct labeling and use recommendations, and ask your Univar associate if youhave questions about the right product to use. Be sure to consider your othereveryday safety product needs as well: protective eyewear, disposable chemical-resistantgloves, Tyvek coveralls and shoe covers, first aid kits and sterile eye flush,flashlights and spill response kits—all are available at Univar in a range ofmaterials, sizes and styles, depending on your application andpreference.