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When it comes to providing respiratory protection to workers, manufacturers must comply with specific health and safety regulations. Both finishers and coatings manufacturers should be familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration general industry standard (29 CFR Part 1910.134), which includes 11 requirements for a minimally acceptable respiratory protection program.
The process of establishing a basic respiratory protection program can be divided into four steps:
1. Identify hazards
2. Understand contaminants' effects on workers
3. Select appropriate respirators
4. Train workers.
Manufacturers should consult applicable state and federal OSHA requirements to ensure that a particular program is in compliance.
1. Identify Hazards
Before a respiratory program can be developed, potential airborne hazards must be defined in detail. Airborne hazards, including those unseen by the naked eye, generally fall into these categories:
Dust: Particles that float in the air, often created by powder coating, sanding, grinding, cutting, abrasive blasting or sweeping of various materials. Potential contaminants in pigments include lead and cadmium. (Note: OSHA has established separate respirator standards for lead, cadmium and abrasive blasting.)
Fumes: Very fine particles suspended in air, generally created when metal is heated to the boiling point and quickly cooled, such as during welding and soldering.
Mists: Tiny droplets formed from liquid materials by atomization and condensation processes. Mists are created by spraying (paint, for example), high-pressure water blasting, plating and mixing operations.
Gases: Substances that are airborne at ambient temperature and are often invisible, including carbon monoxide, methane and Freon. Gases are …