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Correct usage of respiratory masks essential to worker safety

Approximately 5 million U.S. workers are required to wear respirators to protect themselves against hazardous gasses, dust or smoke. Louisiana employees who must wear respiratory masks while performing their jobs should be aware of just how crucial these devices are for safety.

Companies that manufacture respiratory equipment are increasingly focused on ergonomic innovations. Recent improvements include the adjustment of the back plate design on self-contained breathing apparatuses to increase stability and lighter-weight facepieces that offer expanded fields of view. Some respirators even incorporate technology like built-in telemetry systems and automatic filter type recognition.

Misuse of respirator equipment is often observed by industry experts. The most common mistake they report seeing is the mixing and matching of respirator components. Product managers at a leading safety equipment manufacturer stress the importance of workers wearing respirators that are comprised of parts from the same fabricator. They emphasize that all the elements that make up these breathing devices should be approved to use together.

A person's amount of facial hair can also impact a respirator's efficacy. Even half a day's growth of facial hair can break the seal between the mask and a person's face, which can cause dangerous particulates to enter into an employee's mouth. To prevent this from occurring, an industry analysis suggests workers with beards wear loose-fitting respirators that don't use seals to provide protection.

Despite all the protective measures that employers have in place to protect their workers, accidents still happen. When people get injured on the job, they may want to consult with attorneys regarding their rights. Lawyers may assist injured employees with filing for workers' compensation benefits that could pay for medical bills and lost wages.

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