OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 18 Personal Protective Equipment

Section 248 Storage and use

Storage

Respirators must be stored in a clean location, preferably in a plastic bag in a locker or on a shelf. They should be stored away from sunlight, solvents and other chemicals, extreme cold or heat, and excessive moisture. Respirators must not be left out on a bench or hanging on a nail in the shop where they can gather dust and dirt or be damaged or abused.

Inspection

Regular cleaning and inspection of respirators is extremely important and must be done according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Respirators need to be cleaned and inspected daily by routine users, and before and after each use by occasional users. If shared by different people, respirators must be sanitized between uses.

Prior to cleaning a respirator, each part of the respirator must be inspected. Defective parts must be replaced before the respirator is used. The face piece must be checked for cuts, tears, holes, melting, stiffening or deterioration. If the unit is damaged, it must be replaced. Headstraps must be checked for breaks, frays, tears or loss of elasticity. Cartridge sockets can be inspected by removing the cartridges. Special attention must be given to the rubber gaskets located at the bottom of the cartridge sockets. Cracks or flaws may contribute to an ineffective seal.

The cover on the exhalation valve must be removed and the rubber valve carefully examined to ensure it seals properly and has not become brittle. The edge of the valve must be examined for holes, cracks and dirt that may interfere with a proper seal. The exhalation valve is a critical component of the respirator and must be replaced if there is any doubt about its ability to function properly. The valve cover is also important and must not be damaged or fit too loosely.

Finally, the interior of the face piece and inhalation valves must be examined. Dust or dirt accumulating on inhalation valves can interfere with their operation. Inhalation valves should be soft, pliable and free of tears or cuts to the flaps.

Cleaning

Following inspection, the respirator must be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Strong detergents, hot water or household cleaners or solvents must not be used because they may damage rubber parts and face piece. A stiff bristle brush (not wire) can be used to remove dirt if necessary. The respirator can be sanitized using a weak bleach and water solution or by using appropriate wipes. The respirator should then be rinsed thoroughly in clean, warm water. This is important because detergents or cleaners that dry on the facepiece may later cause skin irritation.

The respirator can be hand-dried with a clean, lint-free cloth, or air-dried and then reassembled. The respirator should be tested to ensure all parts work properly before being used.

Maintenance

All respirator manufacturers suggest regular maintenance and parts replacement. Respirators must be maintained and inspected according to the instructions provided with each respirator. Only replacement parts approved by the manufacturer should be used. Mixing and matching of parts from one respirator brand or model to another must never be allowed. Makeshift parts for respirators must never be installed.