Respiratory protection was once only found in the industrial setting. Current trends in safety and health have brought the respirator into not only the lighter industrial settings but the home as well. The use of respirators in healthcare areas is even mandated by government agencies for protection against such airborne diseases as tuberculosis.
If you are potentially exposed to airborne hazardous substances at UTMB, your job duties should be evaluated. Following such an evaluation, the need for respiratory protection will be determined. Hazards can often be engineered out or procedures changed to minimize the hazard making respirator use unnecessary. In fact, using a respirator is the least preferable method of controlling exposures.
The General Industry Safety and Health Regulations lists minimal acceptable requirements for a respiratory protection program. The State of Texas has adopted these regulations by reference. Basically, these requirements are as follows:
∑ Establish written standard-operating procedures governing the selection and use.
∑ Select respirators based on the hazards to which the worker is exposed.
∑ Instruct and train each user in proper use and limitations of their respirator.
∑ Establish a maintenance schedule. Those respirators used by more than one worker must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and inspected after each use. Worn or deteriorated parts must be replaced. Emergency response equipment must be included in these schedules.
∑ Respirators shall be stored in a convenient, clean and sanitary location.
∑ Conduct appropriate surveillance of work area conditions, degree of employee exposure, regular inspections and evaluations to determine the continued effectiveness of the program.
∑ Persons assigned to tasks requiring use of respirators must be physically able to perform the work and use the equipment. The physician shall determine what health and physical conditions are pertinent. The respirator userís medical status should be reviewed periodically (i.e., annually).
∑ Use approved or accepted respirators when they are available.
∑ All respirators, with the exception of Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) must be fit tested on each employee.
∑ Training on proper use of PAPRís required.
If you currently use a respirator or feel that a particular aspect of your job requires the use of one, please contact EHS-B&C at 21781.