Guest Blog By Carolyn Clarke
Whether you’re a nurse, doctor, clinician, or other healthcare worker, one thing’s certain: a respiratory mask is an indispensable piece of equipment for your job. To reduce your exposure to bacteria, viruses, or chemical hazards, you should always make sure that your lungs are protected.
Usually you’ll be briefed on what type of respiratory mask is appropriate for your work environment by your employer, but if you’re looking for more tips to ensure you choose the right respirator, read on for more information.
Know What Kind of Hazards You’re Dealing With
First of all, when choosing the right respirator mask for your environment, you need to be aware of all the hazards you’ll be coming into contact with, from start to finish. Are you dealing with ill patients? Is there an airborne contaminant or a particulate contaminant in your area?
You also need to consider the supplies that you’ll be working with, including any chemicals or medications. Once you know the full list of hazards that will be present, you can narrow down your selection of respirators.
Determine the Level of Necessary Protection
Most workplaces require a mandatory level of respiratory protection that respirators must provide to employees, and many hospitals are expanding their respiratory protection programs. Especially since not all respiratory masks are rated the same, depending on the level of protection needed for the project at hand, some masks might not fit the bill. When you’re working in a dangerous environment, you should take all precautions seriously. Look into the regulations of your workplace to determine the specific respirators that may be appropriate.
Know the Different Types of Masks Out There
Each type of respiratory mask on the market is designed to protect you from a specific hazard. For instance, particulate filters cover your nose and mouth, providing you with protection from airborne particles. However, most do not protect you from gases or other harmful vapors.
To combat gases and airborne viruses, you need to invest in a chemical cartridge gas mask. These masks are designed to block out and even absorb harmful gases in the air. Each one comes with replaceable cartridges that are specially designed to combat specific toxins, which is one reason why you’ll need to know exactly you’re dealing with. No matter which type of mask you need, you can stock up at Moldex-Metric.
Compatibility with Other Protective Equipment
If your work requires that you wear a respirator, as well as a pair of safety goggles, the two pieces of equipment may compete for the overlapping space. This incompatibility can cause leakage around your respirator, or push your glasses up so that they’re no longer providing you with adequate coverage. Before you settle on a particular respirator, make sure that it will work seamlessly with your other gear.
Follow Professional Advice
No matter what type of respiratory mask you buy, here are a few safety tips that remains true across the board:
- Make sure that you follow the instructions detailed on your respiratory mask before using it. Never reuse disposable ones and throw your mask away if it breaks.
- Always keep your mask dry! There are many different types of respirators out there, and while moisture doesn’t render all of them ineffectual, there are quite a few that will stop working when wet.
- You should be able to breathe easily. If you’re experiencing difficulties breathing when you have your mask on, the respirator may have become clogged. Change the filter or the respirator entirely if it persists.
- If you notice any change in smell or taste or taste while you’re working, or your nose, throat, or lungs become irritated, change the filter.
Get the Job Done Worry-Free!
Now that you have all the info you need to choose the right respiratory mask for your work environment, it’s time to go get the job done. Remember to keep your health and protective standards aligned at all times.
Carolyn Clarke is a freelance writer and a workplace hazard consultant from Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of compliance audits in multiple industries around the country, she has helped hundreds of businesses correct their usages of personal protective equipment. When she is not busy at work, she enjoys writing and reading.