Protecting Yourself

from Respiratory



Personal Protection against Respiratory Hazards
By: The Working Man

Prevention is the best defense against respiratory hazards. You
must be in control of yourself, your equipment and as much as
possible of your environment. Also aware of whether there are any
possible gases, fumes, vapors, mists, biological contaminants,
dusts, molds, etc. and take proper precautions against the
particular contaminants.

If you are able to find the source of the contamination you can
then decide if you can prevent the contaminants from getting into
the air at all or control them in a different manner.

There are many items to take into account. For instance sometimes
you will be taking the contaminants into a job site or area
yourself. Paint fumes for instance, if you are a contractor. You
could choose a less toxic paint in non-aerosol form to help keep
the air clear of harmful fumes.

Always provide as much ventilation as possible in the area in
which you intend to work, especially if the air in that space is
contaminated. There are simple precautions that you can take that
will help keep the air clearer.

For instance, you can use a HEPA filter if there is mold or
spores in the air to help clean the air while you are working. Or
you may be able to open windows for an air source that is
constantly being renewed. Fans also provide air flow so that the
oxygen levels remain steady in the particular area and the air
movement will help clean the air of contaminants.

You should close off the contaminated area if you do not have to
work in it. Sealing off areas that have contaminants and in which
you are not required to work will help keep the air clear of

In some situations it may be impossible to improve air conditions
and an appropriate RPE (respiratory protective equipment) must be
worn in order prevent dangerous health hazards. But in many cases
simply finding the source of the contamination and controlling
the area with ventilation or by sealing off the source will keep
you safe, providing the contamination isn't by a biological

Remember that the first line of defense against hazards on the
job site is to be aware of all possible hazards on that
particular site and take preventive measures. If you can improve
or prevent contamination of the work space, do so before you work
in the area. Never ever begin work in a place that hasn't been
properly inspected for hazards.

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