Types of Respirators Used in Construction Sites


Construction sites are a common sight in most localities nowadays. With the profits being seen in this sector, virtually everyone is now investing in it. When aiming for profits, however, some construction companies cut corners. While minimizing costs with the cheapest construction materials and designs is commendable, you should not sacrifice the safety of your workers. Investing in the right PPE makes a significant difference in the protection of workers and visitors to your site.

Most companies will only get safety hard hats and assume this is all the protection need on their site. Even so, workers and visitors are exposed to more than falling objects on a construction site. For the protection of the respiratory systems, respirators are imperative. This is a device that will fit over a wearer’s mouth, face, nose, or the entire face to keep him/her from inhaling hazardous materials in the environment. The most common and dangerous inhaled elements in construction sites include asbestos and chlorine and silica gas from construction and finishing materials. Here are the respirators that will protect people on your site from these elements.

Particulate Respirators

These are the most common and least expensive respirators. They unfortunately also offer the lowest level of protection in construction sites. Particulate respirators have full or half-piece cartridges and dust masks. There are three classes of particulate respirators. Class P respirators are often recommended for construction sites since they are resistant to oil and have HEPA filters that will filter out microscopic particulates, unlike class N and R respirators. You will need extra protection for the eyes when using these respirators.

Chemical Cartridge Respirators

These are also called gas masks. They are full and half-piece respirators with a replaceable canister or cartridge filter. Chemical cartridge respirators are used in sections where workers will be exposed to dangerous gases or vapors. Getting the right filter for your chemical cartridge respirator is essential. Some filters will only protect a wearer against one hazard while others filter out several hazards. They are color-coded according to what they filter.

Powered-Air Purifying Respirators

These use a fan that draws in air through a filter to the respirator’s wearer. While it is easy to breathe through a powered-air purifying respirator, you need a charged battery to ensure its optimal operation. The fan in this respirator also keeps contaminants from the air around a respirator’s user through the creation of positive pressure. Like particulate and chemical cartridge respirators, powered-air purifying respirators are not ideal for oxygen-deficient environments.

Self-Contained Respirators

These are often used by firefighters but will also suffice for construction workers in places where inhaled contaminants pose an immediate health risk. Self-contained respirators have a portable air tank carried by their users. They are thus the only respirators that can be used in oxygen-deficient construction zones like underground places.

Some managers assume that the use of the above respirators is self-explanatory and straightforward. Even so, it is essential to train your workers on the proper use of these respirators. This guarantees compliance with them and their right use. Visitors to your site should also be guided on the correct use of the respirators.

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