Respirators require a regular cleaning schedule to prevent unsanitary conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends facepieces to be removed and washed in warm water with mild detergent. The respirator and the respirator accessories should be drained and hand-dried with a clean lint-free cloth or air-dried. Commercially available cleansers, like respiratory cleaning wipes, should be used as directed by manufacturer directions.
Respirator cleaning wipes are useful for quick and convenient cleaning of respirators. Avoid wipes with alcohol or harsh chemicals, which damage the facepiece materials and even the respirator itself. Many of these products, like the 3m respirator cleaning wipes, come individually packed and stored in a dispenser box. These characteristics enhance hygiene and sanitary protection in the workplace.
Respirator wipes work best when cleaning reusable respirators between uses. They are not a substitute for a proper cleaning but can eliminate dirt and perspiration from the respirator and parts.
You should store clean respirators in nonporous, sturdy, airtight containers, like respirator storage bags. Store respirator and respirator parts as soon as they dry. Respirators should be stored in a way that does not deform the shape.
Respirator storage should protect them from damaging conditions like
To prevent damaging respirators, keep them accessible in the work area in a clearly marked space. In many cases, the manufacturer’s instructions show the best way to store the product. The cleaning and storage of a respirator and its parts are important to maintain the product.
Tight-fitting respirators require a tight seal between the respirator and the face. A respirator cannot protect someone if it does not fit properly. Fields that require respirator use, make workers agree to periodic fit testing for continued employment.
An employee must have their first fit test and again every 12 months. Facial hair, large weight gain or loss, major dental work, or facial surgery can affect the respirator’s effectiveness. In those case, the employer would need a retest. OSHA mandates that work environments dealing with harmful dusts, smokes, or hazardous environments conduct tests for safer workplaces.
Qualitative fit testing uses a fit test solution product. Half-mask respirators, like N95s, prefer fit test solution. This is a pass/fail method that uses a person’s sense of taste or smell. It does not measure the amount of leakage. Employers or unions approve fit tests.
There are four fit test solutions that are accepted by OSHA
The fit test solutions serve the same purpose, which is to see if there is a reaction to the irritant. If there is a reaction, no matter what the smell or taste is, it signals to leakage in the respirator.
HomElectrical offers respirator parts like Sweet Fit Test Solution that are designed to meet OSHA fit testing requirements for respirators.