Ensure Respiratory Safety with OSHA’s Hierarchy of Hazard Control

Construction Worker welding steel pipesConstruction sites will often have tasks that produce or release contaminants into the air. These can be dangerous to workers, and employers need to implement measures that will protect workers. Maxisafe and other experts explain that these measures can range from safety worksite practices to personal protective equipment of safety products manufacturers.

Eliminate or Substitute Contaminants

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers should follow the hierarchy of hazard control measures to keep workers safe. At the top of the hierarchy sits elimination or substitution. With it, you either eliminate the contaminants in the air or replace the contaminants with a non-hazardous material.

Use Machines or Tools

One level lower than elimination or substitution, engineering controls can be established to keep workers safe from respiratory hazards. Engineering controls refer to the use of machines or tools to isolate or dilute contaminants. Machines or tools include fume hoods or ventilation that can dilute contaminants with fresh air.

Implement Safety Practices

Now, when the first two measures prove infeasible, you can implement administrative or work practice controls. These controls refer to worksite plans that aim to keep individual worker contamination levels at a minimum. You can achieve this by rotating workers or by limiting work in a set time period.

Use Protective Equipment

Finally, when all three measures above fail to protect workers or prove unpractical, you can require personal protective equipment, specifically respirators. You can acquire respiratory protection from safety products manufacturers, or you can choose between two types of respirators — air purifying or air supplying respirators.

Air Purifying

Air purifying respirators (APRs) have filters that purify the air being breathed in by workers. APRs work great in worksites with low concentrations of identifiable contaminants. These can also be used against aerosols and high levels of dust.

Air Supplying

Air-supplying respirators have contained breathable air that allows workers to breathe without taking in the surrounding air. This type works great in oxygen-deficient worksites. OSHA requires the use of air-supplying respirators in worksites with a high or unknown concentration of contaminants.

Your worksite will now be a safer, breathable place when you follow the OSHA’s hierarchy of hazard control.