Dust Masks: Poor Occupational Hygiene Practice

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INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to examine why the use of Dust masks in many dusty workplace environments is considered poor occupational hygiene practice, and to identify more suitable dust control regimes, including when dust masks would be an appropriate control measure.

Occupational hygiene deals with the reduction or elimination of health effects from the work environment on individuals (Boyle 2005:147). As such, the use of dust masks in many dusty workplace environments is considered poor occupational hygiene practice since the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that dust masks provide no eye protection, no protect against gases that may be an irritant/hazardous that was caused
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2011 indicated there is evidence to suggest that despite being a commonly used control measure; good RPE practice is not universally followed, resulting in failure to protect the wearer, thus aiding to classify its use in the workplace as poor occupational hygiene. There must be the implementation of a RPE programme surrounding its use to ensure respiratory health is safeguarded since RPE is intended to protect employees against inhalation of certain hazardous particles, but not all. It also does nothing to eliminate the hazard present. OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.134(c)(1) states that a RPE programme should give instructions on; the correct selection of RPE; proper use in both routine and emergency situations; maintenance; and training of employees in the use of RPE and also the respiratory hazards. Having an adequately instituted RPE program is sufficient to prevent respiratory incidents but research demonstrated by Bell, et al. (2011) shows that of the twenty cross-industry sites they researched, the greater number of companies did not achieve optimal implementation of an effective RPE programme in the workplace. Health and Safety Executive’s database was reviewed and companies that regularly use RPEs were selected to be monitored. Those that were selected were viewed by HSE inspectors as low and high performing with regards to general RPE competence. A survey of the twenty (20) UK companies revealed that less than fifty (50%) …show more content…
The decision can be made after you ascertain the amount of hazard in the air and what its form is (e.g. fumes or particles). The ergonomic and health condition of the wearer as well as the correct fit to the user must be considered before use (Council of the EU, 2007). It should be approved by a recognised standard and suitable for the task and the wearer (Health and Safety Executive, 2013). The user should only use dust masks if they have been trained to do so. According to Graveling et al. 2011, the use of RPE can be useless if employees are not adequately trained on its use. Further, employers must increase their awareness of the hazards; the perception of the risks, attitudes, time and hassle associated with the wearing of the RPE for it to be

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