Personal Protective Devices (PPE) like respirators are more likely to be worn if they are comfortable and are most effective when they fit properly. But what’s the best respirator for the work you’re doing? Here, Jason T. Lunn & Rebecca L. Schumann of 3M present tips and tricks for selecting the best respiratory protection device in this article from BUILDER's sister publication Remodeling. Disposable mask-type respirators are the go-to for most contractors, but they aren’t always the right choice for the work being done. With more stringent standards on the way from OSHA, properly equipping yourself and your employees can avoid costly fines and aggravation, and keep everyone better protected.
First, workers should consider their hazard, and then take comfort, fit, and compatibility with other PPE's into consideration. While a disposable respirator will protect a worker from solid and liquid debris on the jobsite, a reusable device will protect against gases and/or vapors. Lunn and Schumann offer some different examples of types of respirators and their functions, allowing consumers to see which would best fit their needs.
Regardless of whether you are using a disposable or reusable respirator, remember that a proper fit and seal to the face is the most important factor for respirator effectiveness. A proper fit will help prevent contaminants from entering the respirator through gaps in the seal. That’s why it’s important for workers to be clean-shaven when using tight-fitting respirators.