American Welding Society Forum
My work does GMAW and GTAW on mild steel, stainless, and aluminized. They say that people cant wear a respirator unless a doctor claims that they needs to, then they have to buy an approved one and have it fit tested at a certified facility. Work will not pay for any of it. They do an audit of airbourne particulates but are they allowed to not let people wear a respirator? What is the issue?
This is tricky.
If your employer says they have done valid air quality testing and have engineering controls in place that are satisfactory, it makes it more difficult to make an OSHA claim than in a situation where you know they are in violation (Whistleblower)
Have you talked directly with your company safety leader about this ? They might be able to set your mind at ease if there really has been diligent work to provide engineering controls for clean shop air.
It's pretty rare in my experience for an employer to ignore a request for a PAPR for smoky welding, especially for GMAW of stainless or coated metals.
It might be easier to sell your skills to an employer that puts safety first and is at least willing to discuss air quality with the workers.
The problem with wearing a respirator is that you need to be healthy...strong heart and lungs because a respirator works your body pretty hard by virtue of just breathing through those filters. This is where a physician needs to perform pulmonary function testing to see if a person has the respiratory capacity to wear one without having a heart attack. Employers need to run people through these programs to keep themselves from being liable should a person develop health troubles from wearing a respirator. There is a lot involved with running a respiratory program. Pulmonary function testing and then respirator fit testing to make sure you can wear one and provide a good seal.
Having said all of that, 3M #8514 is a good disposable product to use for guarding against heavy metal particulates and fits under a welding shield. Technically, it is a respirator due to the fact that it has 4 straps and seals against your face and utilizes an exhale valve. Maybe this is something your employer will work with you on....they are fairly inexpensive considering how well they work.
I work in the field of mechanics, now i work about business card printing
, it is related to health issues, I find myself should protect my health if the company does not meet the basic requirements
To re-state what Lawrence said: This is Tricky.
To rebound off of what has already mentioned, ask questions to your safety professional or manager (nicely) about your concerns and ask to see the results and recommended mitigations (if any) of the air monitoring assessment that was performed. Not knowing the specifics about your work site conditions it would be impossible for me to say what type of air monitoring should have been used (i.e., area monitoring, personal monitoring, or both). Regardless, this information must be made available to all employees for review when asked. After all, it is your health in question and safety is not to be "hidden".
To further assist answering your question pertaining to respirators: When engineering controls, such as air ventilation systems, are not implemented and respirators, regardless of the type, are required due to air contaminants (particles, fibers, mist, vapors, or gases) that exceeds the permissible limits set by OSHA, the employer must have a functioning Respiratory Protection program in place and each affected employee shall be a participant in that program. This would then require Pulmonary Function testing and respirator fit testing of each affected employee (initial training and yearly training). Wearing any type of respirator takes a healthy individual and testing is required to ensure the employee is fit-for-duty.
It is the employers responsibility to identify the affected employees based on their job description and the associated risks and hazards,as well as, selecting the proper PPE to be used based and its protection provided. If PPE (respirators in this instance) is required, the employee is mandated by OSHA to provide the PPE and training to the employee at no cost to the employee. If the respirator is not required and an employee is wanting to use it, the employer is not required to provide it to the employee. However, the employer is responsible for the training, proper use, and application in the workplace. Also, keep in mind, there are circumstances where certain PPE is exempt from being provided by the employer (e.g., prescription safety glasses, safety work boots, and a few others).
One last comment: When a respirator is used, required or not required, a Respiratory Protection program must be in place and the employee must be trained, fit tested, and a pulmonary function test must be performed. This may be a reason for their reluctance in allowing their use (if they are providing a safe work environment).
Hope this helps, good luck and be safe.
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