Categories: Observances, Respirators
February 12th, 2016 8:00 am ET -
Jaclyn Krah, MA
We here at NIOSH LOVE respirators. That’s why every Valentine’s day, we blog about important respirator considerations. It’s our version of an information-packed love letter. In 2014 we discussed essential maintenance tips for self-contained self-rescuers (SCSRs), also known as closed-circuit escape respirators (CCERs). Since that blog entry, the implementation of a new CCER standard (42 C.F.R. Part 84, Subpart O) took effect. The transition to the updated standard took place over a 3-year period, beginning in 2012.
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January 5th, 2016 2:22 pm ET -
Ziqing Zhuang, PhD; Michael Bergman, MS; and Jaclyn Krah, MA
Results of a recently completed NIOSH study confirm the necessity of the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) respirator fit testing requirement, both annually and when physical changes have occurred. The study’s conclusions emphasize that respirator users who have lost more than 20 pounds should be re-tested to be sure that the current size and model of respirator in use still properly fits. For over three years, NIOSH researchers followed a cohort of 229 subjects measuring N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) fit and physical characteristics (e.g., face size, weight) every six months. Prior to this study, very little research existed looking at the relationship between respirator fit over an extensive period of time and the change in facial dimensions, as could be caused by weight gain or loss. OSHA requires FFR users to undergo an annual fit test, which is vital to ensuring continued proper respirator fit. In addition to annual fit testing, OSHA requires that fit testing be repeated “whenever an employee reports, or the employer or the physician or other licensed health care professional makes visual observations of changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g. facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight.” (OSHA, 1998)
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Categories: Healthcare, Observances, Personal Protective Equipment, Respirators
September 4th, 2015 8:12 am ET -
Jaclyn Krah, M.A
Every day is a day to think about worker safety. But today, on our annual N95 Day (09/04/2015), we embrace our dedication to proper respiratory protection practices, shining it with a bit of elbow grease, and displaying it at the very front line of our priorities. Today we find the time necessary to focus on respiratory protection and make sure that we are tuned into the best resources available. Whether you are participating today as an N95 user who understands the benefit of learning about your respirator, as a dedicated respiratory protection program manager, or safety manager determined to create a workplace culture that embraces proper respiratory protection practices – we are here to provide you with the tools you need.
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Categories: Personal Protective Equipment, Reproductive Health, Respirators, Respiratory Health, Women
June 18th, 2015 12:30 pm ET -
Raymond Roberge, MD, MPH; Jung-Hyun Kim, PhD; and Jeffrey B. Powell, MS
Recent NIOSH research has shed some light on the topic of the safety of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) use by pregnant workers. Women make up approximately one-half of the US work force. At any given time, about 10% of those female workers of child-bearing age (15–44 years of age) will be pregnant. Because many women are employed in occupations that require the use of protective facemasks, such as medical/surgical masks and FFR, NIOSH conducted research into the safety of FFR use while pregnant. The most frequently used FFR in the US is the N95 FFR (commonly referred to as “N95 mask”), but little information was previously available about the safety of N95 FFR use during pregnancy. Some individuals complain of difficulty breathing when wearing an N95 FFR or other protective facemasks, and many pregnant women find that they become somewhat shorter of breath as their pregnancy progresses, causing concern that use of N95 FFRs during pregnancy might make breathing even more difficult and possibly harm the woman and her fetus. Beyond the issue of use by pregnant working women on the job, the question also has implications for pregnant women outside the workplace. People sometimes use N95 FFRs as a matter of personal choice during infectious disease outbreaks, during environmental disasters that pollute the air, and even in more common recreational activities that may expose them to airborne allergens, such as gardening and woodworking.
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