Out in the oil fields, there are a number of airborne hazards that can have a devastating effect on your lungs. Wearing a respirator may be the solution to many of the dangerous inhalants, but the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation warns that this personal protective gear is not a guarantee of safety. In many situations, relying too heavily on your respirator could cause a significant workplace injury.
If your respirator does not fit, gases or other dangerous substances can leak in. Since they are not one-size-fits-all equipment, you should look for one that sucks tightly over your mouth and nose when you breathe in for 10 seconds with your hands over the cartridges. Damage to the respirator could affect the fit, as well, so make sure that it is stored in a place that is not too hot or wet, or in direct sunlight. Dust and chemicals could also deform it. Regular cleaning and inspection is also important to ensure full function.
When you breathe through a respirator, the air is being filtered, but oxygen is not added to it. You should not wear it in circumstances where there may not be enough breathable air present. It also may not filter out all the toxins in the air, depending on the gases or vapors present. Even in situations where the filter fits correctly and is doing its job well, your health could affect your ability to use it because drawing air through it takes more force than regular breathing. This information about respirators is not medical or legal advice, and should not be taken as such.