Dangers of not wearing a respirator
There are certain industries where employees may need to wear a respirator in order to limit their exposure to harmful media. For example, coal miners can develop pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, a potentially fatal lung condition caused by coal dust. In 20152, two men from the Carborough Downs coalmine in Queensland were diagnosed with black lung disease. A co-worker admitted that when he started working in the coalmine two decades earlier he and his colleagues hardly wore respirators. Since then, Vale, the owner of the Carborough Downs coalmine, has become a leading advocate of workplace safety in mines.
The first issue that needs addressing is proper fit. Respirators that don’t fit properly can result in serious health consequences, especially in the medium to long term.
To ensure a good fit, you have to take certain issues into consideration.
For example, male employees need to be clean-shaven. Improper fitting due to stubble allows small openings to appear between the respirator and skin, which means contaminants can enter airways and your lungs. Also, employees need to ensure that long hair is tied back and jewellery is removed so that it does not interfere with the face seal.
Disposable respirators should reduce breathing resistance
Respirators are designed with the breathing resistance as low as possible. Effects of high breathing resistance include sweat and heat, which can cause the respirator to move on the user’s face, thus compromising the wearer’s ability to breathe and function properly in a working environment.
Filters are also an important consideration. A blocked filter can cause air-flow issues and therefore wearer discomfort.
3M’s Aura respirators
3M’s Aura series is the ideal solution for your disposable respirator needs. Backed by 20 years of 3M research and innovation, the Aura series offers an array of standard features rarely seen in similar products.
These features include:
- low breathing-resistance filter technology which offers up to 85 per cent less breathing resistance compared to other products;
- a Cool Flow valve that not only removes heat build-up but helps to minimise fogging over eye wear;
- a sculpted nose panel that aids with a good face seal; and
- an ingenious three-panel design that will fit to many face shapes and sizes.
Fit testing kits
One of the jewels in 3M’s crown with the Aura series is the fit testing kit. This kit is designed to check the face-to-respirator seal on any particulate respirator or gas/vapour respirator with a particulate filter. A fit test is a way to assess whether the respirator is a good fit for the individual. It works by spraying a sweet or bitter solution into the hood environment. If the wearer does not taste the spray while doing a number of simple exercises, an acceptable fit has been proven.
3M also provides supplementary services including training on how to do the fit test, an overview of the respirator’s features and how to use and fit it correctly, as well as information on overall respirator performance.
To find out more about 3M’s Aura series of respirators, click here.