Wearing Respirators for Health Protection


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Personal Protective Equipment - What You Can Do When
Faced With Having To Wear RPE

By: The Working Man

In some cases a contaminated area can not be made safer for the
people working in the area. In this case RPE or Respiratory
Protective Equipment must be worn for health protection. If your
company deems it is easier for you to wear RPE rather than for
them to control the source of the contamination you may have to
agree to wear RPE when working in contaminated areas for that

For the company it is usually a matter of practicality. Rather
than stopping the contaminant at the source they would rather
have you wear RPE. It may be cheaper for them to do this rather
than fix the problem.

In other cases you may only need to go into contaminated areas
for brief periods of time and the expense and time it would take
to clear out the contaminants would be unreasonable. Or you may
have to wear RPE in order to fix the source of the contamination.
Or the contamination may not be able to be fixed at the source.

In other cases you may have to wear RPE because you are using
dangerous toxic chemicals and a safer alternative is impractical
for the company or just not available. You might also have to
wear RPE in emergency situations.

It is important that you learn why you are being asked to wear
RPE and all of the possible hazards of the job that would require
such a precaution. If you agree to take the job regardless of the
contamination then you should take responsibility for your own
health and safety and learn how to properly use, maintain and fit
the RPE to yourself.

It is important to realize that even though a certain RPE is
recommended in an area, you can still be at risk even when
properly wearing and maintaining the recommended RPE. Some
concentration levels of contamination may require a different
type of RPE.

If you do not have a respiratory unit that supplies oxygen to
you, always be sure before you go into a contaminated area that
there is enough oxygen in that area for safe breathing. And don't
ever assume that because a particular area was safe the last time
you entered that means it will be safe this time. Circumstances
change, and your life could be on the line.

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